Tourism should involve other sectors in efforts to bolster the Greek economy, said Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) President Yiannis Retsos during the annual Kyklos Ideon conference held this week.
Speaking in a panel discussion on “Tourism and Manufacturing – Competitive or Complementary Sectors of the Greek Economy?”, Retsos said there was no need to change the country’s productive model but instead to include other sectors of the economy in the development of tourism so that the share of tourism in GDP remains high, but with a stronger GDP.
Retsos referred to the improved performance of the sector this year, which he said was unpredictable and unexpected.
“Our forecasts were much lower than the anticipated result this year. So, next year, it seems that things will be even better and we may be able to reach 2019 figures,” he said, adding that “big challenge” was to remain on top.
“In order to be able to endure as a tourist destination and to receive a lot of people over time, we must improve the quality of the product and this can be achieved by connecting tourist activity with other sectors,” he said.
“In tourism we are not happy to be participating in a shrinking GDP as was the case in 2012-2019,” said Retsos, stressing that tourism and manufacturing go hand in hand.
SETE’s chief went on to add that tourism has shown resilience despite unprecedented circumstances, referring to the potential for growth and to a better year ahead in 2022.
“If we don’t improve the products we offer tourists, we cannot remain competitive and to do this we must connect with the primary sector and production,” said Retsos, who is also CEO of Electra Hotels & Resorts.
“This is a huge challenge as it requires changing mentalities, but also a common ground of understanding on both sides,” he added.
Underlining the importance of diversification and quality, Retsos said visitors to Greece were now seeking high quality products that are not only associated with the fixed facilities of a hotel but to the aggregate of services offered.
“Tourism has now become a great experience. There is no such thing as thematic tourism. No one travels just to walk, only to see an ancient site or only to eat. It is a combination of things. You travel for the experience,” said Retsos, adding that the challenge is now to bring all these elements into a comprehensive product and promote it properly in order to attract higher income tourists.
At the same time, he added that crucial to future growth is the management of destinations that are reaching their limits with upgraded infrastructure.