Speaking at last weekend’s Delphi Economic Forum, leading figures in Greek tourism called for the industry’s quality and national policy on the sector to be upgraded while ensuring sustainability. They also proposed a campaign to encourage foreigners to buy a second home in Greece.
The president of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yiannis Retsos, said the industry’s main challenge is making the optimum use of natural resources to improve the country’s tourism product. He explained that over 67 percent of tourists are willing to pay more for products that are not harmful or are beneficial to the environment, especially regarding local produce, which can create new trends and opportunities for local communities.
To serve sustainability, Retsos added, Greece needs to spread out the 30-odd million tourists it receives every year across more domestic destinations and all the seasons.
Aegean Airlines chief Eftychios Vassilakis added that the objective is to reduce costs and keep Greece competitive, along with spreading tourism around the country. The biggest challenge, he said, is to extend the tourism season, which can happen with the growth of the secondary home market and quality use of the new hotel units being created.
Former SETE president Andreas Andreadis, who heads the Sani hotel group, stated that the main objectives for the near future are the reduction of income tax, various levies, value-added tax and social security contributions. He said Greece could be come “Europe’s Florida” by investing in the holiday home market to attract wealthy Europeans.
The head of Regional Development & Tourism Division at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Alain Dupeyras, noted that sustainability will remains at the focus of tourism competitiveness, requiring the cooperation of the public and private sectors.