BUSINESS

Need for destination overhaul

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Tourism

The advent of the coronavirus vaccine won’t be enough for Greek tourism to regain the ground it has lost this year, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and National Bank agreed in separate reports issued on Tuesday, stressing the need to boost the country’s tourism competitiveness.

While SETE highlights the major shortfall in infrastructure and the public sector, National puts forward the need for private investment in the upgrading of the tourism product offered.

In his foreword to the report by the SETE Institute (INSETE), the confederation’s head Yiannis Retsos describes a strategy “that is not exhausted in finding methods and tools for survival” but above all aims at medium-term planning so that “we return even more competitive than before the pandemic.” In this context, INSETE makes a set of proposals for investments in public infrastructure.

It had already become clear since 2019 that Greek tourism had entered a mature phase, as it was competing with developed destinations, so public infrastructure improvement was a vital condition for becoming more competitive. Such infrastructure improvements include upgrading airports, ports and marinas, targeted interventions in highways and road safety, the interconnection of means of transport, utility projects and enhanced experience initiatives such as the creation of walking and bicycle routes and improving cultural and archaeological sites.

There are 10 specific proposals tabled for projects: They include the creation of a metropolitan conference center in Athens and the overhaul of the Attica seafront to enrich the tourism product of the capital; upgrading customs stations at border posts with fellow Balkan countries; the transformation of Rhodes into a sustainable destination, combined with the improvement of its road network, creating a model for the rest of the country to emulate; the improvement of road signs to facilitate visitors; the creation of parking spaces for coaches in central Athens; overhauling the Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center so it can be included in city break activities; the radical renovation of the existing Irakio airport until the new one is built; the protection of the coastline from erosion; and the construction of a new port on Santorini.

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