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GNTO Chief: Greece Aiming for Sustainable Tourism Growth

Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) President Angela Gerekou on Wednesday presented the basic points of Greece’s strategy for the development and worldwide promotion of the country’s tourism offering, in the post-covid-19 era.

“Facing the impacts of Covid-19 on the travel industry is more crucial than ever and a national policy on tourism must combine all the fields involved under the principles of sustainable tourism growth and the use of digital tools,” Gerekou said, speaking during the GNTO’s press conference held on the sidelines of the ITB Berlin NOW 2021 virtual tourism expo.

The GNTO’s president highlighted that sustainability for Greece focuses on three combined pillars that have to do with:
– procedures that respect the environment and promotes the beauty of nature in accommodation, transportation, and activities
– international tourism arrivals at a steadily increasing level together with the capabilities of the destinations
– an inclusive approach of tourism activities and promotion of special forms of tourism that combine the traditional ‘sea and sun’ motive with other issues such as culture, gastronomy, sports, mental and physical health and a special section for responsible tourism and digital nomads.

“This year, we are challenged to go beyond ‘reactivating’ travel to the way it was before. Together, we can make 2021 a year of transformation and resilience. By embracing a new, regenerative model of tourism, we can strengthen the places, environments, and communities on which tourism depends,” the GNTO’s president said.

Innovation

“The mass model of ‘sea and sun’ has entered a new orbit and is combined with more forms of special interest tourism activities, and that needs to be measured effectively,” Gerekou said and introduced the “Innovation” section at the GNTO’s virtual stand at ITB.

“Especially this year Greece will innovate in the field of promotion of the Greek tourism product with more innovative solutions for the tourism industry, which we are presenting at this year’s ITB Berlin,” she said.

Through a partnership with the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels (HCH), the GNTO this year at ITB is hosting 60 Greek boutique hotels (certified by HCH’s Boutique Hotels program) and 20 startup companies (from the chamber’s start-up incubator, CapsuleT) that offer innovative products.

GNTO enters digitalization

The Visit Greece app.

Moreover, during her speech, Gerekou said the GNTO is following the direction of digitalization, regarding the structure of the way the organization operates, and also on the manner it communicates with a more modern online approach and additional digital tools.

“We have already submitted a proposal regarding the digital transformation of the organization to the RRF (Recovery and Resilience Fund) and in cooperation with the Ministry of Digital Policy of Greece,” she said, adding that the GNTO’s proposal includes two different projects.

“The first one is called Digital Touristic Map of Greece and the second one aims to the digital empowerment of our organization though the adoption of specific information technologies,” she explained.

Furthermore, the GNTO is working towards modernizing its online ‘tourism gate’ VisitGreece combined now with the Visit Greece app.

“With targeted marketing on social media and innovative promotion, we face this new decade with more confidence to get the best results for Greece’s international image,” Gerekou said, concluding her speech with Greece’s new slogan.

“Greece is waiting for you, because… All You Want Is Greece,” she said with a smile.

The GNTO’s virtual stand at ITB Berlin NOW 2021 includes a total of 250 co-exhibitors: 50 hotels active in the German market; 80 travel agencies and event organizers; 40 regions and municipalities; 60 Greek boutique hotels; and 20 startup companies.

During the virtual expo, “visitors” can “visit” the GNTO’s digital ITB Now Café and corners and network with representatives of the organization, Greek regions, innovative startup enterprises and boutique hotels.

One of the world’s leading tourism trade shows, ITB Berlin this year is being held as an entirely virtual event as the situation surrounding the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic still remains difficult, particularly for the travel and tourism industry. The ITB Berlin NOW 2021 event will run until March 12.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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