Greece Appoints Ioanna Dretta as Interim Tourism Minister
Greece’s interim Tourism Minister Ioanna Dretta took over her new post from Vassilis Kikilias during the Tourism Ministry handover ceremony held on Friday evening in Athens.
Dretta, the former CEO of Marketing Greece, is part of Greece’s non-political caretaker government sworn in Friday afternoon.
With a career in Greek tourism spanning over 20 years, Dretta has held various key positions in the private and public sector. She holds a degree in Civil Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and postgraduate degrees from Imperial College London (MSc) and Harvard Kennedy School (Master in Public Administration).
Dretta took on the role of CEO and Managing Director of Marketing Greece, a non-profit organization and private sector initiative, in 2017 and stepped down in early May. She remains on the Board of Directors, continuing to support the organization’s executives with her know how and experience.
“Greek tourism, which essentially has been supporting the Greek economy and society for the last 10 years, may have been disrupted during the covid years, but stood on its feet and is today at the top of the global tourism market,” she said during the handover ceremony.
During the pandemic, Dretta headed a number of Marketing Greece’s projects and also cooperated closely with the Tourism Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) to boost Greece’s promotion in international markets.
“Tourism faces challenges but it also has many opportunities, so that the next day it can support society, the national economy and local economies of destinations even more dynamically. This requires great effort from the central government, local government and the private sector,” she said.
“My role is to contribute to a smooth transition from the previous government to the next one,” Dretta added.
On his part, outgoing Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias referred to Greece’s positive arrival and revenue figures recorded last tourism season thanks to the ministry’s successful tourism campaigns, marketing strategies and extension of the season.
“We strengthened the country’s reputation and image abroad like never before… We achieved the biggest tourism recovery in the EU,” Kikilias said, citing data from Eurostat.
“In 2022 Greece was the only country in the EU that managed to have more flights compared to 2019 – this did not happen by chance,” he said.
Inbound tourism to Greece in 2022 amounted to 27.8 million tourists, showing an increase of 89.3 percent compared to 2021 (14.7 million). This generated 17.63 billion euros in travel receipts, a 67.9 percent rise over 2021) and down only by 3.0 percent compared to pre-Covid 2019, and 18.17 billion euros.
“Everything we achieved was the result of a lot of hard work and a well-thought-out plan that we carried out together with the GNTO, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation, Marketing Greece, all industry professionals and the thousands of tourism workers,” Kikilias added, thanking everyone for an “excellent” cooperation for the good of tourism.
Outgoing Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki also referred to the “extremely” productive collaboration the ministry had with the GNTO and Marketing Greece for Greek tourism’s post-Covid restart.
“The restart in tourism was done in a way that was truly an example for other countries to follow… All this forms an excellent basis for this year’s tourism success,” she said and wished Dretta the best of luck with her duties as interim tourism minister.
Greece’s caretaker government was sworn in Friday following the country’s national elections on May 21. Greece’s New Democracy party failed to secure a majority vote and party leaders refused to form a coalition government.
The caretaker government will lead Greece to a second round of elections in late June. Ioannis Sarmas, the president of the Court of Audit, has been appointed caretaker prime minister.