A YEAR-ROUND DESTINATION
The Investor Greece 2020 I Tourism I Analysis
“WITH INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS REACHING HISTORICAL RECORDS, INVESTMENT IS INCREASING IN A COUNTRY THAT HAS A COMPLETE TOURISM OFFER AND IT IS AIMING TO ESTABLISH ITSELF AS A YEAR-ROUND TOURISM DESTINATION.”
2021-2030 STRATEGIC TOURISM PLAN
The new Government of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has launched through the Ministry of Tourism, a strategic tourism plan for the period of 2021-2030. According to PM Mitsotakis, “there can not be any tourist product in Greece that does not put environmental protection as an absolute priority.” The new Minister of Tourism Harry Theoharis says that “the plan is based on sustainable development, diversification of the tourism product, season expansion, the emergence of new destinations, the enhancement of the value-added product, which will lead to salary raises for the sector’s workforce; and strengthening the country’s image in international markets”.
In order to achieve its objectives, the plan has been divided on seven pillars, including adequate access to attract more tourism flows in the coming years; evaluating and improving private infrastructure and its sustainable management and development; evaluating and managing the guest experience and improving public infrastructure; the improvement of tourism education and training; product development and promotion; launching collaborations with tourism stakeholders, and dealing with gaps in tourism legislation. The Government has already succeeded in bringing important deals in the tourism field with the launch of new air routes for 2020, such as the Shanghai-Athens and Bahrain-Mykonos routes and the planned Doha-Santorini. The inter-ministerial committee has also given its approval to new strategic investments, which are expected to create some 2,000 new jobs in the tourism industry.
With an early start, if compared to previous years, a new tourism campaign is expected to be launched in 2020 by the Greek National Tourism Organization. Sustainability remains a key part of the strategy with important initiatives such as the ‘plastic-free’ to pass an important message for the environment.
According to PM Mitsotakis, “there can not be any tourist product in Greece that does not put environmental protection as an absolute priority.” Greece’s new tourism strategy will focus on competitiveness, innovation, and sustainability. As such, other efforts of the Ministry of Tourism in this direction will also include making major changes to Greece’s tourism education, promoting accessible tourism for people with disabilities, attracting more investments and focusing on new digital tools for the promotion of new businesses. The private sector has played and will continue to play an important role in the new tourism plan contributing to a more comprehensive approach to supply, demand, identity, and infrastructure.
The relationship between online short-term rental platforms and local governments has proven itself conflict-ridden. As these platforms deployed across the globe, cities were the first to feel the full force of their effects. In the European Union, this “glocal” stand-off has scaled up and taken on continental dimensions. On one side, there are companies such as Homeaway, Booking, Housetrip, and the well-known Airbnb, that accounts for 62% of the sector’s estimated total EU revenues. On the other, a loose and multifaceted network of cities, which are also prominent tourist destinations. Their terrain of the dispute is the EU institutional complex, with the European Commission and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as key actors.
In Greece, the Government is working on a new framework to regulate short-term rentals in the country as to organize the segment providing equal opportunities to all stakeholders and based on a sustainable approach. Other major cities in the EU have done similar initiatives, such as the city-region of Brussels, which has put in place a series of measures officially aimed at upholding public safety, creating a level-playing field in the tourism accommodation market and avoiding tax evasion. Paris has an authorization scheme in place for the change of use of residences to short-term rentals that seeks to prevent any further loss to the long-term housing stock in central areas.
A WORLD-CLASS TOURISM DESTINATION
The Ministry of Tourism has a clear vision that Greece is a world-class tourism destination and, as such, should offer world-class tourism education. There are plans for the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) as well. According to Minister Theoharis, the GNTO is “expected to cooperate with the private sector for the creation of a modern and flexible promotional model that will pass the message that we want to pass, to the people that we want to visit our country”.
The Greek tourism product is a combination of culture, history, gastronomy and hospitality. According to SETE, since the start of the financial crisis in Greece, tourism has directly generated €125 billion to the economy, while 230 million people have traveled to the country. Greek tourism remained the primary sector of contribution to national GDP and a significant sector for jobs. Efforts are being made by the Government to extend the tourist season beyond the peak summer months. There are projects to increase the number of conference trade or selling experiences such as cultural, adventure, religious and health tourism as well as promoting the country’s architectural heritage and gastronomic traditions. Greece has seen a 40% increase in winter tourism if compared with the previous four years.