Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday unveiled his new cabinet, which includes an increased number of women, two of which have taken charge of a key portfolio: tourism.
Olga Kefalogianni has been appointed as the country’s tourism minister and Elena Rapti has taken the position of deputy tourism minister.
No stranger to the ministry, Kefalogianni had served as Greek tourism minister from 2012 to 2015 in the government of Antonis Samaras.
“I am full of emotions right now returning to a place to serve with all my strength in a field that offers the most to Greek society,” Kefalogianni said, highlighting that Greek tourism saw successful times during 2012-2015.
“We gave Greece a boost abroad and we’ll manage to achieve new goals because tourism is a dynamic sector… Today’s aim is clear: to succeed a strong, competitive and sustainable tourism industry because that will lead to a strong and competitive economy. It will mean more income, jobs and social cohesion,” she said.
Referring to her predecessor, Ioanna Dretta, and previous ministers Harry Theoharis and Vassilis Kikilias, Kefalogianni said they managed to rise to the occasion despite the unprecedented crises and face the challenges for the present and future of the industry.
She added that Greek tourism still has “many challenges” to face and stressed that the next few years will be decisive for the industry.
“Greece, with its enormous potential, can and must face all the great challenges that lie before it: combat seasonality, respect the environment, regulate short-term rentals, solve labor issues and respect local communities,” she said, adding that proper planning, synergies and alliances are all part of her agenda.
“We know the way, we have the plan and we have the knowledge… Work begins now,” she concluded.
Deputy minister: The aim is to take tourism higher in 2023 and the following years
On her part, Greece’s new Deputy Tourism Minister Elena Rapti highlighted that the goal of the new four-year period is for Greek tourism to reach higher levels by utilizing all of Greece’s advantages.
“The aim is to achieve a 12-month tourism season by developing alternative forms of tourism throughout the country,” Rapti said.
She also underlined that the ministry’s short-term goals include strengthening the demand for domestic tourism, establishing accessible tourism policies and improving the quality of the tourism product.
Concluding her speech, she said she is happy to work with minister Kefalogianni and take tourism higher in 2023 and the following years.
“This year started with high expectations and all the signs show that it will close on a positive note… I promise that I will make every effort to achieve our government’s vision for tourism,” she said.
Outgoing interim Tourism Minister Ioanna Dretta welcomed the ministry’s new leadership and wished them every success.
Citing data from the Bank of Greece, Dretta said that tourism revenue during the first four months of the year increased by 16 percent compared to pre-covid levels and that all indications show that the year will end well for the industry.
“There are important issues of destination management and sustainable development and Mrs Kefalogianni knows this field well. My job this month was to make a smooth transition,” Dretta said and thanked all of the ministry’s employees for their cooperation.