Athens and Attica have great potential to evolve into sustainable tourism destinations linking culture with travel and high quality hospitality, said Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias in an interview to Action24.
Kikilias said the ministry had launched a special campaign promoting the Greek capital as a prime city break destination all year round and added that major international tour operators were expressing growing interest in Athens. Indicatively, he said, the average hotel stay had increased from 1.2 days to 2.6 days.
The minister went on to add that Greece has been lauded for its efforts to offer tourism in a safe environment thanks to the implementation of stringent health protocols.
“Greece in 2022 will get the credit for its great effort,” he said.
“The positive testimonies from abroad on the way we handled the pandemic, especially during the first phase also contributed to the rebranding of the country abroad, bringing in difficult years high percentages of tourists, travelers, visitors and strengthening our GDP, and in turn the income of the average Greek family,” he said.
On top of that, said Kikilias, key market players are choosing Greece to do business and invest.
The minister referred to a second ongoing campaign through to March promoting winter tourism in Greece, which he said was proving to be effective, citing Christmas and New Year’s holiday performance at major winter destinations.
Kikilias said some areas even reached 100 percent occupancy. He went on to add that it was time to support winter and mountain region destinations which were hit harder by the pandemic, admitting that after the holiday season decreased bookings were to be expected as is the case every year.
At the same time however, Greek hoteliers mainly those operating year-round operations at winter destinations are calling for additional support, estimating that occupancy levels for the winter period are not expected to exceed 12 percent.
Lastly, Kikilias referred to the need to effectively channel EU recovery (RRF) funds towards infrastructure projects that will create added value for the Greek tourism product.
“It’s an opportunity that shouldn’t go to waste,” he said
In this direction, he said, the tourism ministry has set aside 320 million euros in RRF funds to go into marinas, ports, ski resorts, thematic tourism products, updated education, digitization, accessibility to beaches for the disabled.
The priority, Kikilias said, is to direct funds towards the creation of infrastructure and a sustainable tourism model that will enable Greece to welcome larger numbers of travelers all year round and at the same time protect the environment and destinations.