The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) on Tuesday presented an ambitious plan to further develop and promote tourism in Athens and in the wider area of the capital (Athenian Riviera and Argosaronic islands) so by 2030 visitors to the city would increase by 29 percent compared to 2019 (from 5.9 million to 7.7 million).
The strategic tourism goals for the Greek capital were introduced during an event held as part of a series of presentations by SETE based on its Greek Tourism 2030 study, which includes individual action plans and strategies for each of the country’s regions.
“Greek tourism needs to stop running on ‘autopilot’,” SETE President Yiannis Retsos said during his speech, underlining the significance of 2022 for the sector as revenue from Greek tourism is expected to reach and even surpass the levels of 2019.
Highlighting the fact that businesses are now struggling to manage the burden of increased energy costs and at the same time maintain their level of service, Retsos emphasized the importance of implementing a national strategy to safeguard and boost tourism numbers by 2030.
Strengthening the brand name ‘Athens’
“An important chapter in the promotion strategy of Greek tourism is to strengthen the dynamic of the destination of Athens in international markets,” SETE’s president said, adding that the further promotion of the Greek capital as a brand, with coordinated promotion actions, remains a key priority.
SETE’s proposed strategy for Athens and Attica promotes the brand name “Athens” and focuses on 224 action plans for the development of tourism in the center of Athens (88 plans), the Athenian Riviera (86 plans) and the Argosaronic Islands (50 plans).
The action plans touch on a range of issues such as the creation of a Destination Management Organization (DMO) for the promotion and unified management of the Attica Region’s tourism product, upgrading archaeological sites, the development of a promotion plan for the Argosaronic Islands and solutions to the problem of the parking of tourist coaches in the city center.
The strategic goals SETE aims to reach by 2030 through its action plan are for visitors to Athens to rise by 29 percent compared to 2019 (from 5.9 million to 7.7 million); for overnight stays to rise by 35 percent (from 34 million to 46 million); and for revenue to increase by 54 percent (from 2.6 billion to 4 billion euros).
Commenting on SETE’s action plans for Athens, Retsos highlighted the need for a metropolitan conference center to finally be created in the Greek capital.
Moreover, SETE’s president also once again called for the government to revise the current short-term rental legislation in order to keep the hotel industry competitive and to avoid tax evasion.
Kikilias: 39 of SETE’s proposals have been prioritized
Highlighting the importance of SETE’s proposed action plans for Greece’s regions, Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced that the ministry has prioritized 39 of these proposals (that include actions for Athens), which support sustainable development, and that Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will soon announce their implementation through fast track procedures following a consultation process.
“One of these proposals concerns the creation of a parking space for tourist coaches in the center of Athens,” the minister said, adding that a consultation on the issue will take place with the Municipality of Athens and the Region of Attica.
Moreover, Kikilias said that the ministry is planning to soon announce an initiative to boost the promotion of the Argosaronic islands.
He also said that a collaboration between the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and Marketing Greece was in the works – for Greece’s tourism promotion – and that further announcements should be expected soon.
With regard to SETE’s call Greece’s short-term rental legislation to be revised, Kikilias said the government is looking to make changes to the law and is also waiting for decisions from the EU on the issue.
Governor: Attica Region to set up a DMO
On his part, Attica Governor Giorgos Patoulis underlined that the region has tourism as a priority and focused on the projects that will change Attica’s image, such as the further development of the Athenian Riviera as well as the development of a “Health, Wellness and Greek Hospitality Village”.
According to Patoulis, the goal is for Attica to attract visitors from abroad all 12 months of the year and for the average expenditure and stay of each visitor to have increased by 2030.
At this point the governor referred to the region’s plans to establish a destination management organization (DMO) through the public-private partnership New Metropolitan Attica SA that operates as a regional development organization of Attica.
Among other things, Patoulis said the DMO will help promote the areas in its responsibility and see to the sustainable development of the region’s tourism product.
The governor also said that the region will focus on promoting the island of the Argosaronic to a broader audience.
“We see these islands as tourism destinations that can attract more visitors,” he said.
Mayor: ‘Athens will be a different city by 2030’
During his speech, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis said that he sees the Greek capital in 2030 being “a different Athens”, a city that will be “bigger” in terms of offering more options to visitors and not limiting them to only the center of the city.
According to the mayor, among the projects that are expected to change Athens by 2030, will be the further development of the Athenian Riviera, the construction of the new Panathinaikos Stadium, as well as the creation of a “ministry park” dubbed PYRKAL, which sees the relocation of a number of ministries from the city center and “freeing” some 150 buildings.
This, the mayor said, will help reduce traffic congestion, create favorable conditions for public housing and launch cultural centers in the center of Athens.
Also touching on the issue of short-term rentals, the mayor referred to the need to change the regulatory framework so that the municipality can undertake the responsibility to safeguard the city center from unbalanced development.
“There are some areas of Athens that have far exceeded the limit of how many Airbnb’s they can host,” the mayor said.
The presentation of SETE’s action plans for the development of tourism in Athens based on the Greek Tourism 2030 study, followed similar events held for the regions of Crete (Chania – Heraklion), the South Aegean (Rhodes), and the Ionian Islands (Corfu). SETE will soon hold a similar event in Thessaloniki and in other destinations.