The importance of a unified approach to travel and implementing rapid testing across Europe, digital upgrades and far-reaching marketing actions topped the agenda of talks between Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis and Greek Tourism Confederation President Yiannis Retsos.
Both agreed that the Greek tourism industry proved its resilience and professionalism in the unprecedented conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic as was demonstrated by the feedback of visitors and international recognition.
“We proved that Greece can manage a huge problem and face this great health risk successfully. This is a legacy for the future as well as valuable experience gained by companies and employees operating in such a hybrid environment,” said Retsos.
Both the tourism minister and SETE’s chief stressed the need now to prepare for the challenges posed in 2021.
“Next year will be particularly difficult and critical based on the conditions created by this pandemic,” said Theoharis.
The minister went on to add that 2021 will be a year marked by strong competition. He underlined the importance of rapid testing across all nations, an idea Greece tabled to tourism leaders during the 6th Global Tourism Crisis Committee held by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in October.
The two sides also discussed strengthening Greece’s reach through digital means and targeted marketing actions, which will be carried out by the Greek National Tourism Organization and its ‘digital ambassador’, Visit Greece.
For Theoharis, conflicting travel rules and standards is the greatest challenge in the year ahead, one that must be addressed immediately.
“The debate over the adoption of common rules is ongoing. Talks about how the tests will be used are now on the daily agenda and countries are already implementing ECDC criteria,” the minister said.
Citing National Public Health Organization (EODY) statistics, Retsos reiterated the fact that tourism is not to blame for the second wave of Covid-19.
He went on to underline the importance of US authorities’ efforts to restart travel adding that the political change in the US creates optimism about its relations with Europe.
“The American market is one of the most important for our country. We hope that the second half of 2021 will be the beginning of the return to normalcy for Greek tourism.”