OPINION

Making tourism a strong industry

Kathimerini’s extensive research into the country’s tourism sector has not only revealed chronic shortfalls in the infrastructure of various popular holiday destinations. It has also proved something else: what we like to think of as the country’s most developed industry is actually anything but that. Indeed, the tourism sector is dominated by a small-business mentality and has become accustomed to operating with a short-term outlook. In most cases, businessmen in the tourism sector are motivated by quick and easy profit. This type of tourism is invariably deficient when it comes to offering the high level of services that attract the most affluent foreign tourists. By restricting its services to offering «rooms to let» and small tavernas (irrespective of the quality of services they offer), the field of tourism in Greece is a cottage industry rather than a fully developed business sector. Of course, these basic services are necessary but we must not deceive ourselves that they will become the driving force of a sector upon which we want to base our growth. In view of this, the state must swiftly come up with methods to encourage major investment in domestic tourism. The country needs large hotel complexes that offer the entire gamut of top-level services demanded by wealthy tourists. So the government should encourage the creation of serious tourism complexes with long-term business plans. But this calls for state backing, a reduction in bureaucracy for new investments and a clarification of land use. This is the only way that tourism will become a developed industry in this country and make a serious contribution to growth.