Staff shortages, reflections on the 2023 summer season and the green and digital transitions were the most urgent topics on the table during the executive committee meeting of HOTREC, the umbrella association for Hotels, Restaurants, & Cafes in Europe.
The meeting took place last week in Athens where industry leaders from across Europe were reunited and discussed top priorities for the European hospitality and tourism industry.
During the meeting, participants emphasized the industry’s essential role in fostering a well-being economy, and the industry’s potential for growth and job creation. Together, they reflected on concrete steps that will help hospitality companies thrive.
Climate change: Investments are needed
Looking back at the past months’ floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters that occurred across Europe, HOTREC President Alexandros Vassilikos said the “vulnerability” of the European tourism industry to climate change is undeniable.
“The sector is committed to act – and act fast – to implement sustainable practices. Investments made today will yield numerous benefits – including reduced energy costs, a healthier environment, and enhanced long-term resilience and competitiveness,” he said.
Industry representatives were also able to share insights with Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni who highlighted the importance of hospitality and celebrated it as “a key partner for the Greek government, contributing for almost 25 percent to the local economy”.
Commenting on the issue of climate change and its effects on tourism, the minister spoke of a “reality” that concerns all regions of the planet.
“We experience the effects of climate change every day… It is clear that we must move quickly and methodically by taking initiatives, and seek a balance between the economic and social benefits of tourism and the protection of the natural environment. Furthermore, we should intensify our efforts and develop synergies in order to ensure the sustainability of tourism activity in this new reality,” she said.
Moreover, HOTREC welcomed conversations on how public authorities and the private sector can work together to help support hospitality businesses retain and attract workers – a concern shared by many other sectors across Europe, as well.
Minister Kefalogianni: We must all work together
Minister Kefalogianni highlighted the importance for all stakeholders to work together to “address today’s challenges, build our resilience and drive the critical sustainability transition”.
The Greek minister recognised HOTREC’s vital role in facilitating cooperation and finding solutions in these crucial matters.
Within that scope, Kefalogianni also announced that the Tourism Ministry is willing to examine working closely with Hotelstars Union (HSU), the European industry-driven star rating system to bring harmonisation, high quality and transparency to hotel classification. Launched in 2009, the Hotelstars Union operates under the patronage of HOTREC.
Minister Kefalogianni also drew attention to the impact of short-term rentals (STRs) on housing supply in Greece and the necessity for regulatory action. The Greek government is currently discussing new regulations aimed at improving data-sharing and transparency, responding to long-standing concerns raised by the hospitality sector.
HOTREC presently has 47 member associations from 36 European countries. Greece is represented by the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels.