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Greece Strengthens Tourism Ties with Armenia at UNWTO Meeting 

Greece is looking outward taking actions to penetrate new markets and boost the country’s tourism product, said Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki during her visit to Yerevan, Armenia for the 67th meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe.

It is noted that Greece serves as Chair of the UNWTO Commission for Europe for the 2021-2023 period.

Zacharaki, who presided over the meeting, which included the participation of UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and UNWTO Regional Director for Europe Alessandra Priante, met with Armenian tourism sector stakeholders to discuss ways to further strengthen ties between the two countries.

Among others, she met with major Armenian tour operators and discussed specific actions to boost tourist flows, as well as with representatives from Enterprise Armenia.

The minister said there was a growing interest by Armenians to visit Greece this year.

During her visit to Erevan she visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan as well as the museum dedicated to Armenians who lost their lives during genocide. She also met with representatives of the Greek community in Armenia.

Addressing the UNWTO meeting, Zacharaki referred to the great momentum in tourism this year, adding that there were reasonable hopes for full post-Covid-19 recovery. She stressed, however, that the sector globally and particularly in Europe was faced with significant challenges including the Russia- Ukraine war and soaring prices.

On the sidelines of the event, Zacharaki had the chance together with the head of the ministry’s general directorate for Tourism Policy, Panagiota Dionysopoulou, to meet with partners from France, Portugal, Spain, and Bulgaria, to discuss cooperation in tourism and participation in activities for the UNWTO Maritime Tourism Research Center for the Mediterranean which is based in Athens. 

“I had the opportunity to emphasize to our partners the impressive recovery of Greek tourism in 2021 and its even more dynamic development for 2022. We exchanged thoughts and ideas on how we can address the significant and common challenges in terms of employment, education, sustainability, but also public-private partnerships,” she said.

Addressing a special discussion on Tourism and Rural Development, Zacharaki underlined the importance of developing alternative forms of tourism “in order to obtain a better quality, balanced and sustainable tourism product”. 

“In this context, we refer to the great success of the inclusion of Soufli in the ‘Best Tourism Villages’ as well as of Western Samos in the upgrade program,” she said.

Zacharaki also presented the Greek tourism ministry’s new initiatives including the launch of special seal for visitable breweries, cheese-making factories and olive mills and to efforts being made to link the primary sector with tourism through programs supporting young farmers.

The next UNWTO Commission for Europe meeting will be held in Bulgaria.

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