On the occasion of World Tourism Day (WTD) 2021, Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said he sees the opportunity for Greece to redefine its goals and principles for the sector.
Celebrated worldwide since 1980 by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), WTD is commemorated on September 27 each year and under a different topic to spread awareness about the importance of tourism and its impact on our society.
World Tourism Day once again is celebrated while many countries are still struggling with the impacts of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on its economic sectors, including tourism.
Greece in 2021 showed just how resilient its tourism sector is, as – despite the lingering pandemic – it managed to draw in half of the earnings it did in 2019.
And while Greece may have achieved its main goals for this year’s tourism season, sector professionals are pointing out that Greece must set new goals, develop alternative forms of tourism based on sustainability and generally create a new perspective, in order to face future challenges.
In their messages for World Tourism Day 2021, key figures of the Greek tourism sector underline that the time has come for a change.
Vassilis Kikilias, Tourism Ministry: Redefining goals and principles
“This year’s World Tourism Day is an opportunity, after almost two years of the pandemic, to redefine goals and principles. To plan, based not only on how to attract more visitors, but on achieving this while keeping in mind the principles of sustainability,” Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said on the occasion of the celebration of World Tourism Day.
In his statement, Minister Kikilias underlined that Greece must create tourist experiences based on the needs of the modern traveler, who is interested in discovering the cultural heritage of a destination and seeks quality and will be attracted to the authenticity of our areas.
“We must implement actions that will focus on all those who work and depend on the tourism product. For Greece, tourism has an undeniable economic and social footprint,” he said.
Dimitris Fragakis, GNTO: Structural changes are needed
“With teamwork and hard work we managed to keep our tourism industry afloat during the crisis,” Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis said in a statement.
Highlighting that that Greece achieved a much better season in 2021 than last year in both arrivals and revenue, the GNTO’s secretary general, stressed that Greece is still up against challenges.
“The full recovery of our tourism must go hand in hand with structural changes and reinforcement of the product and destinations, with sustainability at the forefront,” Fragakis stressed.
“Today is an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved, but above all to think about the next day of the most important productive activity of our country,” he added
Yiannis Retsos, SETE: “Challenges are ahead”
“Greek tourism during this year has shown remarkable resilience, offering a deep breath to the economy and contributing to the upward revision of GDP,” the president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, said in a statement.
In his message on World Tourism Day, SETE’s president underlined that despite Greece’s success this year, the sector will face many challenges in the future.
“In order to keep Greek tourism’s brand strong and its competitiveness high, the visitor must return to his homeland satisfied,” he said and highlighted that infrastructure must be improved in order for Greece to meet the increased demand in the coming years.
According to Retsos, a new model of development for Greek tourism means protecting the environment, balancing development, social reciprocity, liquidity in the economy, strengthening local employment, social cohesion and promoting local culture.
“Holistic sustainable development is the only way for Greece to be able to play a leading role with acclaim during the day after the pandemic,” he added
Grigoris Tasios, Hellenic Hoteliers Federation: “Cooperation is essential”
“World Tourism Day finds Greece as a winner of this season,” the president of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation, Grigoris Tasios, said in his message, underlining the contribution of Greece’s hotels to the national success.
“We managed to open tourism safely for everyone and have a season that exceeded forecasts,” he said, referring to Greece’s tourism revenues reaching 50 percent of 2019 figures.
According to Tasios, the cooperation of all parties is key for Greek tourism in the “next day” of the pandemic.
“Greek hotels must receive the support they deserve, in order to be at the forefront of the national effort in the coming years, for a new development model of extroversion, quality, innovation and sustainability,” he said.
Panagiotis Tokouzis, SETKE: “Greek tourism’s main challenge is extending the season”
“This summer marked the restart of tourism, both for Greece and worldwide,” Panagiotis Tokouzis, the Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Enterprises (SETKE), said in his statement.
However, he added that total recovery for tourism will take place gradually and will depend on how well Greece adapts to the post-Covid reality.
According to Tokouzis, Greek tourism’s main challenge in the post-Covid era will be to extend the season by developing alternative forms of tourism.
“The Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Enterprises is well aware of this, which is why it has recently developed an ambitious plan, which includes a series of initiatives and actions aimed at helping small, tourist accommodation units adapt to new conditions and new traveler preferences and priorities in the post-Covid era,” he said.
SETKE has launched the “Alternative Holiday Experiences by SETKE” project which allows its member small hospitality facilities (apartments/rooms to let) to specialize in one or more of four key special interest tourism areas and this way create added value for their business.
“SETKE, with its “Experience Tourism” project, creates the conditions for recovery and development without restrictions,” Tokouzis said.
Lysandros Tsilidis, fedHATTA: “Let’s turn the Covid challenge into an opportunity”
“Now that tourism has been hit, it is the right time to reshape our tourism product,” said the president of the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Travel & Tourist Agencies (fedHATTA), Lysandros Tsilidis.
In his message on World Tourism Day, FedHatta’s president highlighted that Greece’s thematic tourism forms – cultural, religious, medical, maritime, yachting, MICE – need to be supported by both professionals and the state in order to perform to the maximum.
“We must invest in Greece and its tourism with what we have: hard work, funds, knowledge and care. Our tourism has a strong position in the economy as a pillar of growth, but this will not be able to be maintained if we all do not do our part,” he said.