Yiannis Retsos on Wednesday stepped down as president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), after six years in that role since 2017.
Yiannis Paraschis, the Chief Executive Officer of the Athens International Airport (AIA), has stepped in as the new president, taking over the confederation responsible for leading Greece’s tourism industry’s private sector.
Retsos, who is the managing director and main shareholder of the Electra Hotels & Resorts chain, gave his last speech as SETE’s president at the confederation’s 31st General Assembly on Wednesday.
“This is a general assembly with a strong emotional charge for me, as my six-year term in the position of president come to a close here along with the completion of an important personal cycle of offering to the tourism community for 24 years,” Retsos said.
Referring to his two terms as president of SETE, Retsos said the conditions he experienced were truly unprecedented.
“During the years I have been serving in this position, the signs and wounds of the financial crisis have been visible. There was a change of two governments with which we cooperated as we had to do,” he said, adding that his second term involved the handling of “an absolute storm” – the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We managed the pandemic in the best way. We accomplished a lot. They were difficult and painful years, in which I put the common good above all else. Not personal interest, but the good of Greek tourism,” Retsos highlighted.
Greek tourism has bounced back but there is no room for complacency
SETE’s outgoing president went on to add that despite adverse situations, tourism managed to bounce back and he referred to figures showing Greece’s tourism recovery.
Focusing specifically on 2022 he pointed out that while international tourist arrivals worldwide decreased by 37 percent compared to 2019, Greece’s performance was significantly better, as inbound tourist arrivals decreased by 11.2 percent to 27.8 million travelers, compared to 31.3 million travelers in 2019.
In addition, he noted the fact that Greece is the 5th strongest tourism brand in the world and that the goal of Greek tourism should be to maintain this position and not to become complacent.
“This is a great success for a country of some 10 million inhabitants… My point of view is that our goal should always be to keep ourselves among the elite of world tourism… No matter how good the results are, no matter how much we are satisfied and relieved, there should be no complacency,” he stressed.
Referring to the future, Retsos said that the stable pillars of Greek tourism’s strategy for development must continue to be working towards the goal of achieving sustainability and destination management and also engaging in synergies.
New challenges but SETE is strong
“Today a circle closes and at the same time a new one opens. New times bring new challenges but now SETE is bigger and stronger. This is the goal of the next period and Yiannis Paraschis is the right man to serve it,” Retsos said, wishing the best of luck to his successor.
“I wish Yiannis Paraschis the best of success. To excel, to stand out, to star, just as he has done for so many years in his important professional career… To hold the steering wheel firmly, offering his experience, his unique abilities, to lead SETE and Greek tourism where it deserves: in a new era of development.”
Yiannis Paraschis was elected as SETE’s new president during the confederation’s 31st General Assembly. SETE’s new Board of Directors can be seen here.