Tapping into the valuable experience gained from the coronavirus pandemic and upskilling the country’s tourism workforce to meet the new demands are key to restarting tourism activity in 2021, according to Greek Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki.
Speaking during the virtual 4th Thessaloniki Development Conference, Zacharaki said Greece was moving in the right direction regarding a return to normalcy after Covid-19.
“We are preparing for the final victory in our lives, in the economy and in society. 2021 can and should be a year of recovery with perhaps slow but steady steps. With care, with measures, but also with the strength that the lessons of the crisis have offered,” she said.
The minister also said stakeholders were looking into ways to establish Thessaloniki as a health tourism hub for the wider Southeastern European and Mediterranean region, adding that the northern port city could also stand out as a gastronomy, conference tourism and city break destination.
Zacharaki said Greece had managed to lay solid foundations for the tourism sector which can tap into the existing dynamic for the day after Covid-19.
Greek tourism professionals’ adherence to the rules and the new demands were key to this success, she said.
A key point made by the deputy minister was the progress of ministry initiatives with regard to tourism education. In this direction she said talks were underway with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for the inclusion of Greek academic institutions in its educational program through scholarship schemes, but also the possibility of organizing jointly with the UNWTO the first online tourism education conference in Greece.
She added that the ministry was also working on updating the labor market so that it can meet the emerging demands of the tourism market by creating new fields of study that incorporate tourism and new technologies, climate targets and alternative forms of tourism. In this direction, she referred to a current upskilling educational program which will soon be extended to cities countrywide.