Quality, sustainable tourism practices, training and next generation upgrade works are the priorities for Greece in 2021 following the Covid-19 disruption to tourism – one of its main revenue generators, said Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis speaking to ANA-MPA on occasion of World Tourism Day on Sunday.
Theoharis said Greece had achieved world recognition not only for its effective management of the coronavirus crisis but for the prompt adaptation of tourism professionals to new needs.
The focus now, he said, is to cover lost ground, which requires patience, focus and targeted actions. In this direction, Theoharis referred to ongoing promotional campaigns based on the evolution of the pandemic as well as to the upgrade of the tourism product towards more sustainable practices and forms.
Greece, he stressed, was among the first countries to open to tourism after the coronavirus lockdowns were lifted, gaining valuable hands-on experience in crisis management.
The minister stressed that a key priority was better-quality education and training offered to future sector professionals who will be at the frontlines welcoming visitors to Greece in the aftermath of the pandemic.
With regard to the impact of the coronavirus health crisis, Theoharis admitted that it had caused immense damage to global tourism, adding that now time and effort was required to return to normalcy.
“The first step was taken. It was the resumption of tourism itself, a complicated affair and I remind you that many questioned the implementation of this effort,” he said referring to the complexity and sheer range of the procedures involved in restarting tourism after the unprecedented health crisis.
“I now believe that everyone realizes the importance of reopening tourism. At the same time, economic activity – not just tourism – had to resume carefully, safely,” he added.
With regard to arguments that Greece relies too heavily on tourism, Theoharis said the issue was depending greatly on “one form of tourism”.
“Our goal is to diversify and to proceed with the quality upgrade of the product offered by our country. The various types of thematic tourism, such as climbing, diving, health and wellness tourism, gastronomy, can attract more demanding tourists who are also willing to spend more,” he said.