The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is expected to accelerate the digital transformation of Greek tourism enterprises in the coming years, Hellenic Chamber of Hotels President and HOTREC Excom member Alexandros Vassilikos said on Thursday.
Speaking on the topic during a roundtable discussion of the Greek chapter of the International Federation for IT and Travel & Tourism (IFITT), Vassilikos said that the pandemic had spurred developments in the sector.
“The majority of hospitality enterprises in Greece are small-sized family units with 40 rooms on average. In many cases, there must be a change of generations in order for digital transformation to become part of their operations. But the Covid-19 period and the post-Covid-19 era will accelerate developments and lead to digital reforms much faster than many of us anticipated,” he said.
Vassilikos also pointed out that the funding tools available for economic recovery on a European level are based on digital transformation. This, he said, is expected to step up the transition to technology.
“Hoteliers should not consider technology a disruption but an evolution. It has become part of our lives,” the chamber’s president added.
Tourism demand will bounce back
Meanwhile, tourism stakeholders expect tourism demand to bounce back as soon as the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
According to Vassilikos, the tourism sector has been on constant growth for the last 70 years – with ups and downs but has also shown resilience. Despite today’s major disruption of Covid-19, he expects tourism to bounce back since traveling will become more of a need than a luxury activity.
“Tourism is not part of the problem, but part of the solution,” he noted.
Tourism experts also expect digital transformation to affect all aspects of the industry’s operations including the traditional distribution channels, the OTAs, hospitality brands, medium-and small-sized enterprises.
According to Dimitrios Buhalis, director of the eTourism Lab at Bournemouth University in the UK, technology will spearhead tourism, however innovation and education are also essential.
“Education is key and in many cases its free. There are many innovators out there, as well as many online courses and books available,” he said during IFITT’s roundtable discussion.
IFITT’s roundtable discussion on the digital transformation of Greek tourism was also attended by Andreas Koukas, senior marketing manager for Continental Europe, Hilton; Dimitris Serifis, CEO, Nelios Hotel Digital Marketing Agency; Apostolos Tsakpinis, chief technology officer, WebHotelier; Chariton Brousalian, sales and marketing manager, Greek Travel Pages (GTP); Sotiris Varelas, lecturer, University of Neapolis Paphos / co-founder, NeTourWork; and Minas Liapakis, co-founder, EyeWide Digital Marketing Agency.
The discussion was coordinated by Stavros Kefalas, co-founder of Tourix.
The Greek Chapter of IFITT aims to promote the organization’s activities and products on a local level; create a network in the local travel and tourism industry; and organize workshops and small conferences.