Mapping the new tourism reality in the post-pandemic period and successfully adapting to it, is the challenge we are called to face.
Preparation is what always makes the difference, especially when we are up against such big challenges. From the pandemic and the open wounds it has left, to the fact that a war is happening in Europe – something unthinkable until months ago – that simultaneously triggered a global “tsunami” of economic consequences throughout the production and consumption chain of the modern world.
We have been building our resilience for two years now and managed for Greek tourism to greatly contribute to the global tourism restart in 2021 and we expect an even better 2022.
This is a very important lesson. To not give in to difficulties even when they are unprecedented and put us in uncharted waters. Even if everything around us is falling apart, we must have the plan and the strength to build the new. To build the vision of sustainable tourism of the coming years, utilizing the experience of this period. To make our tourism product more durable, which is always sensitive to fluctuations. To make it greener, smarter, more competitive and of greater quality.
So, the first pillar is to set the pathway for tourism to move towards green transition. Sustainability is the absolute priority. Especially with the surge in energy costs we are experiencing now, the need for energy savings as well as for the utilization of alternative energy sources becomes even more urgent.
The second pillar, which also touches on sustainability, is to create infrastructure. From dealing with the extreme phenomena and the consequences of climate change to the utilization of targeted tourism issues that will contribute to the extension of the tourist season, infrastructure is required. Modern, safe, efficient. Roads, tourist ports, energy, water and sewerage networks, waste management, museums, entertainment venues. At the end of the day everything is about infrastructure. And a destination must secure the quality of life first to its residents in order to guarantee it for its visitors as well.
The third pillar is to build the new digital reality in global tourism. Differentiating sales channels and becoming independent from specific markets so that we do not put all of our eggs in one basket, are lessons we learn from the challenges we face and guide us to digital investments. Technology for extroversion and innovative management know-how is what will build tomorrow’s tourism.
The fourth pillar – and the one of high priority – is the growing of our human resources. Both in new specialties related to the fields of technology and its applications as well as in existing specialties that now require additional knowledge and skills. Tourism education is more necessary than ever in order to meet the increasingly demanding models of service of our visitors, especially to the extent that we are aiming to attract tourists of high income categories.
Can we build these four pillars? I firmly believe that we can. With the resources from the National Plan “Greece 2.0” and the Recovery Fund but also the new NSRF. With new tools such as the new Development Law. By meeting market expectations from the green transition, by attracting and facilitating private investment and above all, by the greatest possible consensus on the prospect of sustainable development with benefits for all.
Hellenic Hoteliers Federation President