The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) will focus attention on five areas to ensure the continued sustainable development of Greece’s largest sector.
Speaking during the confederation’s 31st General Assembly on Wednesday, SETE’s new president Yiannis Paraschis, said be believes that Greek tourism in 2023 will succeed in exceeding 2019 levels, a record year for the sector’s performance.
“2023 is the first year after the pandemic that started without travel restrictions and is developing particularly strong for Greek tourism,” Paraschis, who is also the CEO of Athens International Airport (AIA), said.
According to Paraschis, the course of international air arrivals so far is indicative, which, based on data from INSETE (for the regional destinations) and Athens Airport, show an increase of 11 percent compared to 2019.
He then highlighted the challenges that the sector has to manage.
“The overall picture fro 2023 does not only have favourable indications,” he said, referring to the macro-economic and geopolitical challenges affecting the tourism market.
“There are still markets that are closed (such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus), markets that are in a slow recovery process (such as China), while financial instability and banking problems in major economies, major staff shortages in the labor market internationally, energy issues, and the parallel rise in inflation and interest rates create ‘grey clouds on the horizon’,” Paraschis stressed.
However, according to Paraschis, the data so far shows that both in terms of early bookings and airline seats for most destinations of the country, lead to a “positive conclusion” for the 2023 year.
“Unless anything unexpected happens, the 31 million arrivals and the 18.2 billion euros revenue of 2019 will be surpassed this year,” he underlined.
Paraschis then referred to the five priorites on which SETE will focus on for the “next day” of Greek tourism.
“Today we are at a crossroad, at a point when critical choices, which will determine the competitiveness of the Greek tourism product and development in the next decade, must be made,” he said.
According to Paraschis, new trends in tourism markets, developments in technology, changes in the labor market, and – above all – the imperative need for shaping a tourism product oriented towards socially and environmentally sustainable development, must be taken into account and included today in the country’s strategic planning for Greek tourism.
“SETE will focus on five main pillars that will see close collaborations with the new government, local government, tourism workers and local communities,” he said, adding that the five pillars are directly linked to the national strategy for tourism, with a 2030 outlook, prepared by SETE.
The pillars highlighted by Paraschis involve SETE and the government focusing on:
Focusing on sustainability, SETE’s new president announced the confederation’s initiative for the creation of a Sustainable Tourism Development Program.
“The aim of this effort will be to provide methodology and tools that will allow, through specific steps, the targeting, implementation and certification of the development of tourism businesses towards sustainability and zero pollution,” Paraschis said, adding that ensuring a sustainable tourism industry is not only a necessity but also will prove to be the “right business decision”.
He added that the green transition of Greek tourism must be supported in practice and with simple procedures from the Recovery and Resilience Fund and the other financial tools for both large and small and medium-sized tourism businesses.
Minister: The main priority is sustainability
On her part, Greece’s interim Tourism Minister Ioanna Dretta referred to the promising prospects for Greek tourism in the coming years.
During her speech, Dretta referred to SETE’s contribution to the upward trend of Greek tourism and described the sector as “a superpower that finds a way to grow, when everything around it recedes and shrinks, and over time contributes to the national and local economies and societies”.
Moreover, she highlighted that Greek tourism must adapt to new trends and underlined the importance of synergies.
According to Dretta, sustainable development from now on should be a central priority for Greek tourism.
“We must reposition the tourism product around sustainability and how we will offer based on the principles of sustainability in the economy and society,” she said.
Yiannis Paraschis was elected as SETE’s new president during the confederation’s 31st General Assembly. He took over the role from Yiannis Retsos who stepped down after six years in that role since 2017. SETE’s new Board of Directors can be seen here.