Alexander Zinell: We should lead the international restart of tourism
As we find ourselves in the process of lifting the lockdown in Europe and watching the cautious restarting of air travel, we all now form part of a new chapter for the tourism industry.
We found ourselves facing an unfathomable tragedy for humanity, during which protection of human life took priority. However, the pandemic constitutes a huge threat for all business sectors, let alone us in the air transport sector. Well-shielded as a company may be, as hard as it may have worked on the worst possible scenarios, forecasts for the economy, for tourism and travel traffic remain adverse.
In our case, passenger traffic may have completely collapsed, but our projects – our commitment – to the upgrading of 14 regional airports has continued, despite the obstacles in our path. Work at 10 out of those 14 airports has already been completed.
Today, last year’s record of 30 million passengers across the 14 airports appears distant. It was a success achieved in cooperation with the entire sector, but I believe that in a few years’ time we will not only be there again, but will also have improved on it.
Last month international flights started reaching Thessaloniki’s Makedonia Airport, while since July 1 the same has occurred at our 13 other airports, sending out a very encouraging message. Regardless of the course of passenger traffic this year, the day after for the Greek tourism product depends on the decisions made today. This is being done through the adoption of steady and strong synergies among all parties involved in the Greek tourism industry, so that every destination becomes increasingly attractive and competitive.
In this context we are closely and productively cooperating with all local and state entities for the promotion of the 14 destinations and the strengthening of their competitiveness. We hold regular meetings and constant discussions with entities and corporations, local authorities and the regions’ residents, we listen to their ideas and views and cooperate on all issues on the table.
Our primary goal for all the airports we operate is the optimum travel experience via the supply of secure, modern and user-friendly infrastructure. The results of the surveys we conduct at airports positively reflect the outcome of our efforts. Of course it is important to stress that outside the airports, the tourism prospects of a destination are also determined by the sufficiency and the proper operation of the infrastructure at each destination.
I wish to conclude by mentioning that the way Greece and the Greek people have handled the first stage of the crisis from the pandemic fills us with pride. It is therefore up to us, having sent out a very positive message internationally, to grab the opportunity and the advantage we have to assist and lead in the restarting of tourism on a global level.