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Mrs Olga Kefalogianni,
Minister of Tourism

talks to grtraveller about the Greek tourism product.

Editor Margarita Manousou

Positive outlook, need to implement a sustainable tourism strategy

Data to date show that 2023 will be an excellent year for Greek tourism, in terms of revenues and arrivals. These results are certainly not accidental. It is the result of a methodical effort with vision, faith in the development potential of tourism, but also of hard work on the part of the tourism business and those employed in tourism. It is also a result of the seriousness and consistency we showed abroad during the difficult years of the pandemic. We exploited our comparative advantages and provided solutions to the problems that arose. Of course, the positive signals are satisfying, but they also encourage us to move even more decisively to reforms and changes that will make our country's tourism product even more attractive and allow it to remain competitive. For the next four years, the Ministry of Tourism is implementing, on the basis of a central planning, a new strategy aiming at sustainable tourism, guided by the principles of green development and with special care for the protection of the natural environment, the diffusion of benefits to society and the preservation of the identity of the Greek tourism product.

Issues affecting the development of tourism

Although tourism demand has been at high levels, there have certainly been constraints, which we take into account in our planning. The unstable economic environment, especially after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, and the ensuing inflationary crisis, certainly affected tourism activity globally. In addition, the effects of climate change and natural disasters, which have also affected our country to a great extent, have an impact on the demand and motivation of travellers.

Greece's presence in international tourism exhibitions is strong.

It is absolutely certain that the targeted, communicative and modern tools for the promotion of the country and its comparative advantages in international markets, contributes to a great extent to the formation of a consistently high demand for Greek destinations.

In our mix of promotion and promotion tools, participation in international tourism exhibitions plays an important role. It gives the opportunity to both the Ministry of Tourism and the GNTO as well as our co-exhibitors, Local Authorities and private businesses, to hold meetings with international tourism market players and to directly approach the public and tourism professionals in a predetermined time frame. In addition, participation in international tourism exhibitions is an important opportunity to promote Greece's unique product to the prestigious and international media that cover these events.



Planning to support the tourism product in areas affected by natural disasters in the past year

At the central level, the government's planning includes the cooperation of all stakeholders and faster and more effective intervention in the affected areas, as well as emergency measures such as special economic relief for businesses. The priority, especially in Thessaly, is of course to restore as quickly as possible the infrastructure that will allow the resumption of tourism activity. At the same time, the planning and implementation of actions to stimulate demand, with special promotion and promotion programmes for the affected areas abroad and in Greece, is proceeding.

To this end, we are in constant contact with local professional and local authorities, but also with the international tourism market, tour operators and airlines, to support travel programmes in the affected areas. Finally, planning for special incentives aimed at attracting visitors to these areas is already underway (with the North Evia Pass 2023) or in progress.

Actions to address the phenomena resulting from climate change

The challenges will be constant in the coming years and we must be ready to meet them in every possible way. The government seeks the harmonious and direct cooperation of all stakeholders. Moreover, this task requires the cooperation of the state, state structures, local authorities and the private sector. Improving infrastructure is a one-way street in the new reality that is taking shape, as is the additional concern for flood and erosion control and fire protection measures, with a parallel emphasis on crisis management systems. But we also need immediate adaptation to conditions at European level, and in the short term. It is clear that we need increased European resources to deal with the consequences today, not just in the long term.

The use of Renewable Energy Sources is a priority

The Green Energy Transition is a priority for the European Union and one of the key pillars of the government's programme. Greece already plays a leading role internationally in the use of Renewable Energy Sources. The exploitation and harmonious coexistence of RES and tourism technologies is absolutely essential in the face of the challenges of the modern era. Pressing problems must also be dealt with in modern terms. Evolution requires adaptation. Of course, the development of RES must be in line with the needs and identity of a destination.

Actions aimed at strengthening the positive trend in tourism

Among the objectives of the Ministry of Tourism to maximize the benefits for both the sector and the national economy, are the promotion of new tourist destinations, the enrichment of our country's tourism offer by promoting special forms of tourism, the increase in demand beyond the peak tourist months and the mitigation of the geographical over-concentration of tourist flows.

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