The Minister of Tourism Olga Kefalogianni promises an upgrade of infrastructure and skills. British tourists don’t just want sun and sunbeds, according to WTM research.
As you walk towards the main entrance of the ExCeL London Exhibition Centre, six Greek flags are prominently displayed. There is no flag of another country next to them and all you notice are the thousands of visitors entering the building at the start of the London International Tourism Fair (WTM London 2023) which takes place from November 6 to 8.
The stand of the Greek presence looks bigger this year, as the bet it will have to win is quite demanding. Initially, the intense competition from countries that are either considered traditional rivals, or are now dynamically entering the tourism market. The need for Greece to convince that it is ready to face the extreme phenomena of the climate crisis is also evident.
Four pillars of tourism strategy
In the press conference given by the Greek Minister of Tourism, Olga Kefalogianni, she set four main pillars of the ministry’s strategy. Among them, the sustainability of tourism, the extension of the tourist season, the training of the workforce and the upgrading of tourist infrastructures were prominent.
The key word was sustainability. Mrs Kefalogianni promised that “the next day of tourism for Greece will focus on people and local communities, as we are interested in them having opportunities for income, income, but also new jobs”.
A key challenge for the country is both the protection of the natural environment and the safeguarding of social cohesion in a rapid tourism development, which can become sweeping when it focuses only on strengthening economic activity.
In view of these challenges and the possible phenomena of profiteering, the minister expressed her opinion that “Greece remains a value for money destination” while the ministry pledged to make the maximum effort to observe legality.
“We are concerned about the climate crisis”
Reference was also made to this summer’s devastating fires. Olga Kefalogianni argued that “Greece emerged as a model of successful management in Rhodes” while admitting that “similar crises will exist, but the country now has the know-how to overcome them successfully”.
With the climate crisis already taking its toll on top tourist destinations, the extension of the tourist season seems a natural consequence. Although the Minister of Tourism did not want to connect the two phenomena, she emphasized that “it is a matter that concerns the government”.
So he invited British tourists to visit less popular tourist destinations in Greece and even outside the “usual” tourist season. The aim is to capitalize on the country’s efforts to promote alternative holidays, with the modernization of ski resorts and diving destinations.
The report published by WTM organizers in collaboration with Oxford Economics is typical. “Tourists abandon sunbathing and sunbeds for new experiences” is the title of the research, which, among other things, observes that “climate change plays an increasingly important role in tourists’ decisions regarding duration, season and destination”. .
Juliet Losardo, director of the exhibition (WTM London), said that “tourists seem more determined to make the most of their precious holiday time (…) now wanting to explore the culture, cuisine and nature of a destination”.
The general secretary of the EOT, Dimitris Fragakis, was also present at the exhibition, who expressed his optimism for “the resilience of Greek tourism, which offers both cheap and expensive destinations”. It is indicative that for the period January – August 2023, arrivals from abroad increased by 18.4%, compared to the corresponding period last year, according to the official data of the Bank of Greece.
Source: Deutsche Welle