Op-Ed: ‘Quality in hospitality is the main priority’ – Alexandros Vassilikos
The effects of the Covid crisis have not been the same for all hotels and clearly have left wounds that have yet to heal.
The 2022 season is starting with encouraging signs of demand for Greece and when it reaches its peak it will have a very positive quantitative sign. On the one hand, this proves the speed with which tourism can recover after serious crises. On the other hand, this confirms the correctness and effectiveness of the great effort made in the midst of the pandemic, to support and maintain the integrity of the country’s hotel network in order for it to be able to continue its contribution to the economy and society.
However, counting arrivals every year, no matter how reasonable it may be due to the need for almost the entire real economy to breathe from tourism, at the same time limits us to a one-dimensional reading of the tourism reality. The big question is: what will be the quality of our guests’ experience in at least five years from now, in 2027? And what should the profile of these visitors be?
Quality is the only real shield for the Greek product in the years to come. The first priority must be the quality of our tourism accommodation. It is fundamental to deal with practices of the informal economy and unreliability that arise from the “sharing economy”. Quality means, first of all, having a regulated accommodation landscape; one with certifications and safety regulators for the quality of offered services.
At the same time, we must plan a targeted course for the overall upgrade of the Greek product, in terms of sustainability, accessibility, innovation, smart technological solutions, modern operational infrastructure and effective management systems for the daily life of destinations. The upgrade and thematic enrichment of our product are the pillars of the “bridge” for the transition to the “next day”. A “bridge” that is reliable and secure so that, regardless of the ups and downs of the times and the ongoing uncertainties, it can lead to the desired results for business, employment, regional development and the national economy.
It is time to look the future in the eye as there is no place whatsoever for inaction or missed opportunities. The momentum requires a long-term vision and for bold decisions to be made today. It requires large-scale interventions and adjustments that will utilize both the resources of the Recovery Fund and modern financial tools such as the new Development Law and PPPs.
The key to evolution is adaptation. The transition to sustainable tourism of the “next day” is not an option, it is a necessity. For us to synchronize with global trends since any other option would leave us behind. The difference in the global tourism market between success and failure will be defined by the ability to differentiate; to launch innovative concepts of experiences; and to offer high quality services with a low ecological footprint.
In the years to come, meta-material values will increasingly define a new meaning for hospitality, in the context of a holistic conception of the well-being of people. The natural and cultural reserve of Greece is such that it guarantees that if we act in a timely and effective manner, we can secure the leading role of the country in this new era for world tourism.
Hellenic Chamber of Hotels President
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