The international travel & tourism industry on September 27, celebrated World Tourism Day (WTD) 2020 with messages of hope and optimism, as the sector is confronted with the biggest challenge in its history: the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has led the global response to this challenge and united its member states, the tourism sector and the UN system to face up to the pandemic.
The theme of this year’s WTD was “Tourism and Rural Development”.
“Tourism has proven to be a lifeline for many rural communities. However, its true force still needs to be fully deployed. The sector is not just a leading source of employment, particularly for women and youth. It also provides opportunities for territorial cohesion and socio-economic inclusion for the most vulnerable regions,” UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili said.
On the occasion of WTD, key Greek tourism figures gave their messages, underlining the significance of social cohesion and rural development for tourism growth in the post-Covid-19 era.
Harry Theoharis – Tourism Minister
Speaking to ANA-MPA on the occasion of WTD, Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said that Greece had managed to provide its visitors with unique travel experiences in 2020, despite the Covid-19 health crisis.
“Our country was one of the most popular destinations among the travelers that chose to go on holidays this year,” he said.
Furthermore, the minister underlined that Greece maintained and further strengthened its brand and positive reputation during the summer months.
“Greece offered visitors unique travel experiences and a sense of safety that was critical amid the Covid-19 crisis,” he added.
Theoharis also said that over 4,000 coronavirus tests were conducted during July and August to employees of the tourism sector in Greece, with only two coming out positive.
Dimitris Fragakis – GNTO Secretary General
“World Tourism Day, this year coincides with the most severe crisis the industry has ever faced,” Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis said in his message for WTD.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted large and small tourism enterprises, affected millions of jobs, countries and destinations… In these unprecedented circumstances, Greece has made great efforts to operate its tourism industry, with safety.
According to Fragakis, Greece has proved its adaptability, reliability and professionalism.” These elements have supported Greece’s tourism sector this year and will support its recovery efforts in 2021,” he added.
To celebrate World Tourism Day 2020, the GNTO, on September 27, screeened a short video titled, “Greece, Always Epic”, at Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”; the Athens’ metro and electric railway stations.
Grigoris Tasios – Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President
In his message, the president of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation, Grigoris Tasios, underlined the severe impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the international tourism industry after decades of steady growth.
As he said, with the guidance of experts, Greece reacted immediately by establishing the appropriate health protocols and taking the necessary measures to make its guests feel safe.
“In a short period of time, we managed to welcome the first arrivals amid the COVID-19 pandemic, without endangering human lives… As the pandemic continues, we keep our valuable experiences as the basis for creating a new tourism identity and becoming an exemplar destination,” he added.
Hellenic Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Entrepreneurs
Referring to the theme of this year’s WTD “Tourism and Rural Development”, the Hellenic Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Entrepreneurs (SETKE) called for the interconnection of tourism with the agricultural sector.
“Tourism can become a complementary source of income for rural families, and offer incentives to young people, especially in the mountainous regions and remote areas, to continue working in the primary sector… In other words, tourism can keep rural populations, local communities and regional economies alive,” SETKE said.
The confederation also called for the creation of a legal framework that will focus on the development of agritourism.
Federation of Hellenic Associations of Travel & Tourist Agencies
International tourism needs to re-evaluate its communication strategy in order to cover the lost ground, the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Travel & Tourist Agencies (FedHATTA) said in its message for World Tourism Day 2020.
Prior to the pandemic, international campaigns were focusing on the beauty of destinations and their tourism infrastructure in order to inspire people to travel… The preferrences of travelers have changed, as people now avoid overcrowding.
“Today, we should focus on lesser-known destinations that offer powerful experiences… This is probably why the UNWTO, this year chose to promote agritourism – a form of tourism that is not sufficiently developed in Greece and could breath new life into the country’s tourism industry,” SETKE said.