Greece is turning into a focal point for global tourism professionals and investors, as World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili announced during a visit on Monday to Athens that the creation of a tourism academy in Greece and a global forum on investing in Greek tourism are under consideration. He also said the WTO will not have a clear a picture of the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on global tourism before the end of March.
The head of the WTO, a United Nations body, met at the Tourism Ministry with Minister Haris Theocharis and stressed the significance and quality of Greek tourism while praising Athens for its cooperation on a number of issues, which also formed part of the talks Pololikashvili had with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis later on Monday.
“We talked a lot about innovation, about education, and with the support of the minister we are going to think [about] and create a WTO international center in Greece. We are also going to announce a startup competition for entrepreneurs and startups to support and find investors,” the Georgian official stated after his meeting with Theocharis.
He added that, in Greece, “there are lots of opportunities in investments. Next year maybe we will organize a very concrete and very interesting investment forum, Invest in Greece, to attract more international companies and international institutions to invest and create new jobs in Greece.”
Pololikashvili further noted that “the prime minister’s leadership is very important for tourism and we will try our best to promote Greece, a great destination, all over the world.”
Theocharis pointed out that “Greece is in the first league of tourism destinations in the world, but we are not happy with where we are: We want to focus now not on arrivals but in terms of quality and tourism revenue.” He said Greece can draw on the vast experience of the WTO in other countries.
Asked about the effect of the coronavirus on tourism, the WTO chief admitted it is too early to know what the impact will be, “but we are sure that at the end of March we will have a better picture of where we are.” He conceded that “there will be quite serious damage, including to internal tourism in China; we are talking about very big numbers, and of course it will affect the economies of many countries.”