Greece is aiming to keep tourist flows steady into autumn, said Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, adding that maintaining incoming flights from the US will contribute greatly to boosting tourism in October and November.
In an interview to public broadcaster ERT on Tuesday, Kikilias confirmed news that Greece was expecting tourism-related revenue this year to reach 12 billion euros.
The minister said a 20 percent increase in average spending was a positive sign of recovery, adding that the ministry had worked hard to ensure that flights from the US continue through to the end of the season.
A decision on Monday by the Biden administration to allow fully vaccinated travelers from certain countries to enter the United States as of November is also expected to strengthen Greece’s tourism performance in 2021.
He went on to refer to a four-pronged tourism plan to be implemented in the immediate future focusing on:
– completing necessary infrastructure and addressing over tourism at popular destinations while ensuring the sustainable development of others;
– setting up a crisis management mechanism that will be responsible for preventative policies and strategies as well as resources to address incidents affecting tourism;
– the digitization of offered services particularly through the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) which will include making tourism services and cultural resources available in digital format to tourists and users;
– and lastly, the implementation of a training and advanced education program for sector professionals aimed at contributing to the upgrade of services offered and to the “creation of quality jobs”.
“We want to protect our very popular island destinations from overtourism, supporting local infrastructure and preserving the viability of the product,” he said, adding that he will work with fellow ministers in this direction.
Regarding the need for a crisis management tool, Kikilias said Covid-19 and climate change had created new conditions. “We are obliged to address anything that may arise in the future and to safeguard growth,” he said.
Kikilias also underlined the importance of upgrading tourism training and upskilling, which will ensure more higher quality jobs with better salaries.
The minister confirmed that French hospitality group Accor has expressed interest in setting up a tourism academy in Greece.
Kikilias also referred to the increase in funding to 2 million euros allocated for the promotion of Evia island in 2022 with tourism leading the way to recovery of the fire-hit island.
“It is our obligation to address all industry problems in the short term. Tourism cannot operate on autopilot. There is a global framework – still unstable with a lot of demand and a lot of data,” he said.
The newly appointed minister said he would be working closely with all tourism stakeholders, local and regional governments in order to formulate a strategy that is in the best interests of all involved.