Greece’s Tourism Ministry Honors Key Figures for Contribution to Industry
The Greek Tourism Ministry on Monday honored key figures of the industry for their efforts and contribution to tourism over the past years.
“It is our obligation and our great pleasure to honor those who we at the Tourism Ministry consider to be the protagonists of the last tourism season and those of the past years in Greece,” Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said during an awards ceremony in Athens.
Accolades were given to Yiannis Retsos, president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Alexandros Vassilikos, president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels; Grigoris Tasios, president the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation; Dimitris Koutoukis, Secretary General of the Panhellenic Federation of Employees in F&B and Tourism (POEET); Yu Zenggang, president of the Piraeus Port Authority; Theodora Riga, Chief Commercial Officer & Director of Strategic Communications of Thessaloniki Port Authority; and Yiannis Paraschis, CEO of Athens International Airport (AIA).
Yiannis Retsos, SETE
Yiannis Retsos, the president of SETE, Greece’s umbrella body of private tourism enterprises, was the first to receive an award.
Minister Kikilias expressed his thanks to Retsos for the support of SETE and its members during the years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During the most difficult moments of the pandemic and when everyone doubted whether Greece could withstand the pressure when it opened to tourists (due to the Covid restrictions, rules and protocols), the contribution of the private sector, along with its professionalism, support and mutual understanding, was exemplary… The president himself really had our back,” Kikilias said.
“This award belongs to the entire tourism world, workers and entrepreneurs, who took risks and innovated so that today we can look towards the future with a vision and optimism, as one of the world’s leading tourism brands,” SETE’s president said, highlighting the fact that Greece’s exceptional results in tourism, especially in 2022, was the result of good cooperation.
Alexandros Vassilikos, Hellenic Chamber of Hotels
“We did it,” the president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels said when receiving his award for the professionalism hoteliers showed in carrying out the Covid-19 protocols that aimed for the safety of hotel staff and guests.
“We mustn’t forget how we were when we got into this crisis and how we are getting out of it… I want to thank those present here and for the difficult but good cooperation we have had all these years proving, not only as an industry but also as a country, that we can respond to crises. That we can also be role models and I assure you that this can also be seen from the outside… It is very important to show our ability to adapt,” Vassilikos said.
“This award belongs to the Greek hoteliers who worked on the protocols, to the members of the chamber’s Board of Directors who worked day and night to prepare them and be available in a digital form… It is important to us that the government recognizes the efforts of the hospitality industry,” he added.
Grigoris Tasios, Hellenic Hoteliers Federation
The president of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation, Grigoris Tasios, was honored for his valuable contribution to the upgrading of the Greek tourism product.
According to the tourism minister, a second reason for the honor was Tasios’ involvement in the recent agreement reached between hoteliers and employees on a new sectoral contract.
“This award belongs not only to Greek hoteliers, but also to all Greeks who really believe that tourism – and hospitality in general – is what makes the country go forward,” Tasios said.
He also thanked the federation’s Board of Directors that for “so many years have given battles to solve problems and defend the quality and development of the Greek tourism product”.
Dimitris Koutoukis, POEET
Upon receiving his award, the secretary general of the Panhellenic Federation of Employees in F&B and Tourism referred to the important cooperation that POEET has with the ministry and expressed his appreciation for the signing of the new sectoral contract for workers.
Next to be honored were authorities from the country’s “gateways”: the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki and the Greek capital’s airport.
Yu Zenggang, Piraues Port Authority
Upon receiving his award, Yu Zenggang said that the port’s progress in cruise tourism has been picking up since the pandemic.
“We went from 650 port calls and 1.05 million passengers in 2019, to almost zero in 2020 during to the pandemic… The situation started to pick up in 2021 and last year we reached a very good result,” he said, adding that in 2022 some 680 cruise calls were recorded in Piraeus with passengers reaching almost 850,000.
According to Zenggang, for 2023 the port authorities expect 750-800 ships to call and passenger numbers to reach almost 1 million.
“I would like to thank the Greek government and municipal services for the support and the good cooperation with our cruise business,” he said, adding that the Piraeus Port Authority will continue efforts and the cruise destinations of Piraeus and Athens (Attica) will be promoted in upcoming international cruise forums.
Theodora Riga, Thessaloniki Port Authority
On her part, the Thessaloniki Port Authority’s Theodora Riga was awarded for helping put Thessaloniki, a relatively unknown port for cruise travel, on the map of international cruise destinations.
“The great success of Thessaloniki in the cruise industry is due to the excellent cooperation we have with everyone,” she said.
Yiannis Paraschis, Athens International Airport (AIA)
“This award is obviously an honor for all the effort put in by the 15,000 people that work at Athens airport … I think we have managed to create a community of good cooperation,” AIA’s CEO said after receiving his award.
Paraschis added that AIA tries to be “more” than just an airport.
“We aim to be a real link in what is called the tourism product of Athens,” he said, adding that AIA has managed to increase visitors in Athens from 2.5 million in 2012 to 6.5 million in 2019.
“In 2022 we were close to 6 million passengers, which is considered a success considering that for the first four months we still had Covid restrictions in place,” he said.
The awarding ceremony was held on the sidelines of the Tourism Ministry’s presentation of the operational framework for the launch of Destination Management and Marketing Organisations (DMMOs) in Greece.