The Municipality of Athens on Tuesday announced an action plan that includes a wide range of measures to support the city center’s economy within the next four months.
Budgeted at some 40 million euros, mainly from EU funds, the action plan includes around 10 million euros to support the Athens’ tourism sector with initiatives such as a city promotion and management plan and the creation of a sustainable tourism observatory.
Tourism is one of the four sector’s the action plan will support in order to keep the city center’s businesses open and running and to protect jobs that are at risk due to the prolonged health crisis caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
According to the municipality, the four sectors to receive support represent the majority of the city’s economy and employment, especially in the historic center of Athens: entrepreneurship; employment and social cohesion; culture and tourism; and digital future/innovation.
“The plan has been developed to support trade, cultural and tourism businesses, aiming to keep the city’s economy alive during the pandemic and the day after,” an announcement said.
The action plan to support Athens’ economy was drawn up through the municipality’s collaboration with representatives of the city’s productive bodies.
Sectors to receive support
The city’s entrepreneurship will be financed with a total of 9.6 million euros and include support for businesses in the historic center of Athens to improve their image, and initiatives for commercial enterprises. The municipality also plans to establish and operate the Athens Film Office to attract large film producers to the city.
Employment and Social Cohesion
Under a budget of 6.7 million euros, the municipality will launch initiatives including a “Skills on demand” program for the unemployed and the creation of a strong solidarity network (Open Social Net) that will bring the municipality’s social structures closer to the groups of the civil society.
Culture – Tourism
For the culture sector, the municipality will channel 7.7 million euros to support companies active in cultural creation and expression.
For the tourism sector, the municipality will support a tourism promotion and management plan through B2B and B2C channels and the creation of a sustainable tourism observatory with funds adding up to 10,100,000 million euros.
Moreover, regarding tourism, the municipality also plans to strengthen its cooperation with the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and private entities (‘This is Athens & Partners’ initiative) through its Development and Destination Management Agency (EATA), and also launch strategic collaborations with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).
Plans for the city’s innovation include supporting young entrepreneurship through the Athens Digital Lab; supporting the digital upgrade of businesses in the city to strengthen their outreach; and the creation of an electronic “City Card” – all under a budget of 2,320,000 million euros.
Athens Mayor: Now is the time for actions
Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis discussed the action plan on Tuesday during a teleconference with Athens Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI) President Konstantinos Michalos, Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) President Yiannis Retsos, Athens Chamber of Tradesmen President Yiannis Hatzitheodosiou and Athens Traders Association (ESA) President Stavros Kafounis.
“Much has been said about the harm that the pandemic crisis has caused and continues to cause. But the time to react has arrived, now is the time for actions… The municipality of Athens takes initiatives, adjusts its strategy to the current situation and invests directly to support and strengthen the productive forces of the city. Our strategic action plan amounts to 40 million euros and will be fully implemented over the next four months, to strengthen entrepreneurship, tourism, culture and the digital future,” Mayor Bakoyannis said following the teleconference.
SETE: Collaborations are necessary to overcome challenges
On his part, SETE President Yiannis Retsos underlined that the challenges created by the pandemic are many and require investments, synergies and collaborations.
“It is important that we can take advantage of these unusual conditions to upgrade the city of Athens, through a multifaceted program that extends to many and equally important axes. The evolution of the pandemic gives us the necessary time to utilize and improve our infrastructure, through continuous dialogue and co-formation of targeted actions to support entrepreneurship,” SETE’s president said.