Harry Theoharis

MINISTER OF TOURISM

Greece 2020  I  Tourism  I  Leader

BIOGRAPHY He has been repeatedly elected as a Member of the Greek Parliament since 2015. Previously he has served as Secretary-General for Information Systems at the Hellenic Ministry of Finance, and as Secretary-General for Public Revenues. he has held senior management positions in the private sector and has earned a Masters degree in Software Engineering, with Honours, from the Imperial College of London. 

“GREECE HAS A STRONG BRAND AND CAN WIN A BIG SHARE OF THE MARKET AS LONG AS ECONOMIC AND OTHER CONDITIONS ALLOW IT.”

UPON BEING APPOINTED MINISTER OF TOURISM YOU HAVE SET AN OBJECTIVE FOR THE TOURISM SECTOR TO REACH A STRONG ANNUAL GROWTH OF 4%. HAS THIS BEEN ACHIEVED AND WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION OF THE TOURISM SECTOR IN THE COUNTRY?

 

Indeed, in 2019, we had more than 4% growth in terms of tourism arrivals, but more importantly, and this is a strategic target that we are choosing to adopt, we had a growth of around 13% in terms of tourism revenues. As far as prosperity and job creation is concerned, tourism revenues are more important than the number of visitors.

 

We are setting a number of strategic targets emphasizing the growth of tourism revenues as opposed to tourism arrivals. As a result, for the next few years, we would like to have double-digit growth for revenues while keeping the arrivals at the level of single-digit growth. Of course, we need to deal with tactical issues, like the current spread of the coronavirus that might affect the numbers, but we will judge our targets on a relative basis. At the same time, we would like to increase the number of overnight stays, as well as the average spend. 

“OUR MESSAGE IS THAT GREECE IS BACK

IN BUSINESS AS AN INVESTMENT HUB.

THE ECONOMIC CRISIS IS OVER, AND

AS A RESULT, MORE GROWTH AND A

BETTER ENVIRONMENT IS HELPING

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF INVESTMENTS

IN GREECE AT PRESENT.” 

 

Additionally, we are aiming at spreading the season, so we have a stronger increase in the shoulder months, which is our strong 3Q of the year. We want to promote some of Greece’s lesser-known regions and not to centralize all efforts in the main tourist resorts centered on a few popular islands and coastal regions. Without underestimating the vital importance for Greece of this beach tourism, our country has much more to offer with other regions to explore, full of authenticity where tourists can live interesting experiences.

 

FOREIGN INVESTORS ARE INTERESTED IN THE IMPROVING ECONOMIC SITUATION OF GREECE. WHAT ARE THE MAIN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN THE TOURISM SECTOR TODAY?

 

There are many investment opportunities, mainly in resorts but also in city hotels. Currently, for example, Athens is heating up with a lot of interest from investors that get various buildings and transform them into hotels or upgrade them to better and more luxurious ones. 

 

A similar thing is happening in Thessaloniki and other cities around Greece. But there is also a number of big projects in Messinia, Porto Heli, Atalanti, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes, and Corfu, and also in smaller islands like Milos, Kalymnos and other Ionian islands. There are many projects currently being implemented in those areas, and we certainly welcome, help, and support all these new projects that come along.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR FINAL MESSAGE TO FOREIGN INVESTORS WILLING TO INVEST IN GREECE?

 

Our message is that Greece is back in business as an investment hub. The economic crisis is over, and as a result, more growth and a better environment is helping the implementation of investments in Greece at present. 

 

With the change of Government, there is a clear pro-business mentality from the governing party, and we are rapidly transforming the legal framework to be conducive to more business investments, to be more supportive of business projects and opportunities that currently exist in Greece. All these, in connection with the fact that after the crisis there are a lot of depressed assets, the so-called spring effect, makes Greece an ideal investment destination for at least the next few years.