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Op-Ed: ‘We Must All Join Forces for Tourism’ – Grigoris Tasios

Grigoris Tasios, the president of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation, tells us how working collectively – the state, companies, employees, local communities – can set the pace for tourism in the post-coronavirus era.

Greek tourism right now stands at the most crucial point of its modern history. In 2019 it showed the dynamics of a global destination. In 2020, due to the pandemic, Greek tourism suffered an unprecedented shock that caused disruption, but the sector gained in credibility and formed a valuable chapter of trust.

The challenge for Greek tourism in 2021 is to utilize and maintain this confidence, to see a good rebound that will give the opportunity for a great “take off” towards the future.

‘Every great crisis is also a great opportunity… Tourism has shown how much it can give and it is ready to give much more.’

We hoteliers, throughout the ages, look ahead with optimism. Every great crisis is also a great opportunity. What we must do, and which it is really up to us, is to work collectively. Tourism has shown how much it can give and it is ready to give much more under one basic condition. That we all – the state, companies, employees, local communities – join forces and highlight Greece as a leading force in global tourism.

We have the privilege of having a brand that shines through time, that has friends from all over the world. And it is up to us to work on this brand to attract a flow of visitors as soon as conditions allow. The whole planet will want to “celebrate” freedom from the pandemic by traveling. All trends show that travel will skyrocket. At the same time, at every opportunity we remind that the Greek tourism product is very attractive.

The outlook of the industry is optimistic for the future of Greek tourism. Despite today’s uncertainties and great difficulties, hospitality can become the vehicle that takes the country swiftly and safely towards a sustainable development that will reach everywhere and benefit all. Only tourism and hotels can guarantee this. Therefore, it is a strategic issue for the Greek economy to build strong resilience, in order to make organized use of this global trend of the coming years.

‘We must give the national battle from where we are strong, from tourism; from where we have proved that we can set the bar high and surpass it.’

The stake, however, is not limited to showing the dynamics of Greek tourism. It is a much broader issue that concerns the functioning of tourism as a catalyst to transform the Greek economy. The world, especially after the pandemic, is changing rapidly. Environmental sustainability comes to the fore. Digital transformation embraces every aspect of human activities. Infrastructure is of particular importance in dealing with the effects of climate change. Also, the continuous upgrade of the skills of human resources will be crucial for employment.

These are major issues for the entire European economy and consequently for Greece’s. In order to achieve these critical goals that will place Greece on the map of a viable and competitive Europe, we must give the national battle from where we are strong, from tourism; from where we have proved that we can set the bar high and surpass it.

That is why the 10-year plan for Greek tourism prepared by the Tourism Ministry with all tourism bodies, must go “hand in hand” with the priorities and resources that our country has to receive in the coming years from the European Recovery Fund. The new financial tools for the development that the country will have in the years to come should be focused on where we can see the maximum effect on the economy and society.

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