ECONOMY

Diversification of offerings among top tourism priorities

The government intends to boost the tourist business sector through a set of new innovative measures, according to the Tourism Development Ministry’s planning for the 2007-2013 period. Sources suggest that the plan includes eight priorities for action, which are as follows: 1) Utilization of the country’s natural and cultural stock to strengthen its tourism product. 2) Diversification of the tourism product with the dynamic growth of special and alternative forms of tourism. 3) Creation or upgrade of hotels and tourism infrastructure in the country. 4) Upgrade of advantages and skills as well as of the operating philosophy of the human resources employed in tourism. 5) Strengthening of Greece’s international exposure as a safe and attractive tourism destination. 6) Extension of the tourism season across Greece and reduction of the seasonal element with an increase in visits by foreign tourists while strengthening domestic tourism. 7) Rational resolution of zoning problems, which for years have impeded the growth of tourism, via relevant legislation. 8) Encouraging innovative activity by using the instruments provided by modern information technology. Special significance is being given to public sector interventions for the improvement and upgrade of essential infrastructure for the development of traditional as well as special and alternative forms of tourism and the utilization of its natural and cultural capital in a variety of ways. They include: – The development of sea tourism with the construction of tourism marinas and works to facilitate boats’ access, and the creation of diving centers, aquariums, etc. – The creation of zones for tourist yachts in commercial ports. – The upgrade, improvement and modernization of winter tourism infrastructure (ski centers, mountaineering shelters, etc). – Completion of supportive projects for the creation of spots for tourism development and themed cultural events or routes of national or regional significance in mountain or other areas with an interest in their natural environment, architecture and sports activities. This also includes creating networks of mountaineering or historic paths, the development of ecotourism and gastronomic routes for local traditional products (the route of the olive tree, or of wine, for example). – Highlighting and utilizing spaces of archaeological or historic interest through the creation of networks and combined routes of cultural and environmental interest. – Small public projects to develop religious tourism (development of ecosystems and interventions to maintain and promote monasteries and the creation of religious tourism networks). – Public works to preserve, restore and utilize the tenable or traditional old wooden vessels, to highlight elements of the wooden shipbuilding tradition and their use through exhibitions. – Pilot work for the highlighting, protection and management of ecologically sensitive areas, such as NATURA areas; the drafting of integrated management programs, in cooperation with the Environment and Public Works Ministry and environmental groups, aimed at light tourism development in those areas. – Projects and action for utilizing the country’s cultural capital through the utilization of its cultural heritage and of modern cultural production.