Airport, marina and road infrastructure upgrades, revised spatial planning regulations, and diversifying the Greek tourism product are the top priorities for the tourism sector laid out in a 10-year roadmap for economic recovery which is up for public consultation.
Recommendations by the so-called “Pissarides committee” – headed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Christopher Pissarides – include revising spatial planning regulations so as to protect tourist areas from oversaturation and degradation of the tourist product, on the one hand, and direct development in areas of potential tourist interest that remain unexploited.
The plan goes on to stress the need for increased investment in technologies and tourism infrastructure that will be able to meet the increasing demands for safety and wellbeing, particularly in the post-Covid-19 age.
Accelerating the tourism sector’s digital transition
Topping the list are airport, port, transport and marina infrastructure upgrades, launching the country’s seaplane networks, and accelerating the tourism sector’s digital transition so as to include contactless check-in and check-out capabilities, e-menus as well as other digitalized applications to be used on cell phones.
The report goes on to identify tourism interest areas which need to be further developed including culture and marine tourism, areas which have great potential.
In this direction, upgrades to port and marina infrastructure must be implemented immediately and in a targeted fashion with priorities on establishing Greece as a home porting base, the report said.
On culture, it is vital that museums and archaeological sites extend opening hours to facilitate visitation particularly in the summer months.
With regard to the further development of MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) tourism, the report highlights the importance of creating relevant infrastructure with the capacity to handle large events but also the need to introduce business travelers to other options such as wellness, city, cultural and food tourism.
Other items on the 244-page report include the development of complimentary tourism products in the fields of wellness, agrotourism, ecotourism and sports tourism with the operation of modern hotel units that specialize in such services, and tapping into the country’s vast dynamic of thermal springs, which remain underutilized.
The focus is to attract travelers from all economic and age brackets.
The Pissarides report goes on to note that though Greece is an attractive tourism destination welcoming 34 million people last year alone and ranks 13th worldwide, travelers still do not seek out Greek products when they return to their homelands.
In this direction, the committee proposes the introduction of a series of incentives for the promotion of local products as well as certification of selling points for such products, the creation of brand names/trademarks and limiting the availability on the market of non-packaged products.
The plan is currently open for public consultation. It will require finalization before it is sent to Brussels for approval.