Op-Ed: Angela Gerekou on promoting Greece as an “EF ZIN” destination
Two years of severe health crisis, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis have radically transformed the international tourism market. We are now in the midst of a new reality, facing one young traveler, with very different needs.
The profile of this new visitor should be our guide to drawing up our new strategy. According to research data of the GNTO, the millenials, the most crucial market group, are looking for destinations, accommodation and companies that follow environmentally friendly practices. They’re even willing to pay even more in order to find destinations with sustainable policies. They look for destinations that share the same principles and values with them. Destinations that follow inclusive policies, that care for minorities, such as people with disabilities.
Another new trend that prevails is the search for more “virgin” destinations, where people can live authentic experiences, which don’t conform in the mass consumer logic. The future of tourism focuses on the visitor who seeks the authentic nature of local communities. The local products, the local cuisine, the customs, the whole intangible cultural heritage are at the heart of each visitor’s quest.
You see, when we talk about a sustainable tourism development model, we mean a set of sustainable policies, which respect not just the environment but also the culture and the authentic character of local communities.
For Greece, our primary production and cultural heritage are huge “national funds”, which also strengthen and enrich the Hospitality Economy. At the Ministry of Tourism and the GNTO, we give special emphasis to mixing Greek Hospitality, Food and Culture as organically as we can.
Highlighting this triptych is a priority for us.
In this context, last April, on my own initiative, we organized the “1st Symposium Greece the Country of EF ZIN: the sustainable Economy of Hospitality in connection with the Greek Diet and Culture’’.
The whole country offers a huge variety of experiences, that strengthen and rejuvenate the body, spirit and soul of the visitor. And this is exactly the country’s competitive advantage. Many international destinations offer thematic experiences, but Greece is the one which offers this sense of holistic rebirth. Research shows that after the pandemic, regenerative tourism is the strongest trend in the world.
EF ZIN is the ancient Greek philosophy and way of living that empowers body, mind and soul. Translated into the needs of the modern man, EF ZIN is the good nutrition – the Greek Mediterranean diet – exercising close to nature, the rejuvenation at sea and in our thermal springs, cultivation and empowerment of the spirit, positive thoughts, respect for one another, respect for the environment, and to the future generations.
This holistic philosophy could make Greece stand out as the EF ZIN world center, a term much broader than well-being. It is the sense of ancient Greek harmony, in physical, spiritual and mental level, which needs to be more present in our modern, challenging times.
Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) President
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