"Customers want unique experiences like river and mountain trips"

By: sofie Shulman as published on 1/6/22 in calalist (link to so source at the end)


This was said by Sofia Zarki, Deputy Greek Minister of Tourism, at the Future Tourism Panel held as part of the Calcalist Israel-Greece Conference in collaboration with Aroundtown and Brown Hotels. The panel also included Maharis Taucharis, Greek MP and former Minister of Tourism, Maria Taupenopol, CEO of GREEK TRAVEL PAGES, and Gregoris Tessius, President of the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers in Greece

The Future of Tourism Panel held as part of the Calcalist Israel-Greece Conference in collaboration with Aroundtown and Brown Hotels, chaired by Kobi Bitton of the Israel-Greece Chamber of Commerce, was devoted to innovation in Greece Of "back belly" for other types of tourism with higher added value. Participating in the panel were: Sofia Zakarki, Greek Deputy Minister of Tourism, Maharis Tauchris, Greek Member of Parliament and former Minister of Tourism, Maria Taupenopol, CEO of GREEK TRAVEL PAGES, and Gregoris Tessius, President of the Hellenic Hotel Association of Greece. "At the heart of our effort - diversity, quality, sustainability. Customers want unique experiences not only the sun and the sea, the two things that are not lacking for both Israel and Greece, but also other activities - streams, mountains and Israelis were the first to discover this part of Greece," said Sofia Zachary, Deputy Greek Tourism Minister, "My grandfather had a hotel outside the classic tourist areas and there were always a lot of Israelis. Now we want to develop diving, mountaineering, wine and culinary tourism and all kinds of experiences. Huge sums will be allocated to improve infrastructure in the alternative experiences. We see this as our tourism strategy for the next decade. Another strategic issue for us is education in the tourism industry. What we saw in 2020 is that beyond the billions we lost in the industry, we also lost a lot of jobs. It is important for us to bring young people back to the field of tourism and this is a significant part of the discussion in the World Tourism Organization as well, building incentives to work in the field and also building more stable frameworks. The EU is helping us renew curricula and investing in tourism schools and we have more than ten of them. The plan is for 20,000 unemployed young people to receive new skills, including digital, which is very much needed today. "

Israel-Greece Conference panel
Calcalist Conference in Greece Right Grigoris Thassius Maria Theopnopolo Harry Theoharis Sofia Zakraki and Kobi Bitton (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)

Subsequently, the discussion shifted to the issue of the sustainability of the tourism industry when Bitton asked Harris Taucharis, a Greek MP and former Minister of Tourism, to explain the implications of the connection between tourism and sustainability.

You attract a lot of tourists but in some places there are already voices that it changes local life too much "This is a real issue and it happens all over the world, there are places that no longer want tourists, there are places that forbid the construction of new hotels. We all know the struggle of Barcelona And AIRBNB.In Greece there is no such movement that opposes tourism, we have issues of infrastructure, the flow of tourists, but we have not yet reached the point where the local population expresses opposition to tourists, but that does not mean we are not close and there are no management challenges in the field.When it comes to sustainability, it's the name of the game today in tourism, everyone is talking about it, it started even before the plague. The focus has changed slightly, but the idea is still long-term relationships with investors in Greece. Environmentally conscious tourism is not a simple issue, but it can be tackled. "I am working with the Saudi Minister of Tourism to establish an international council in the field - we are looking at the numbers and there are a lot of efforts in the field." Bitton: Regarding the digital transformation, how does the industry integrate the technological developments?"In 2030 we will experience what will be invented in 2025 which means we do not yet know what exactly will happen," Taupenopolo said. Small that have not undergone the digital transformation.This is a major industry in Greece that accounts for more than 20% of GDP.We are seeing accelerated and forced digitization in the industry since the Corona because it was simply no longer possible to reach the customer in the old analog form. Recent research shows that we are still in the early stages of the transformation, there are many small hotels that do not have their own website and they completely trust Booking.com. We need to look for the smart organizations - provide them with open information and the government needs to provide us with the fathers where it will be possible to look for information and tourist habits. We need to develop digital skills, educate business owners, produce smart targets that will also monitor pollutant emissions and energy consumption. "When it comes to 5G networks - the government will cover 90% of the area in the advanced networks and this will also advance the process."

Bitton: The plan you describe will require you to develop technologies and open up to the travel tech industry and start-ups - here, of course, Israel can play a significant role. Maria: "We already have a local industry of tourism start-ups and innovation initiatives that I personally coordinate. There is also a vibrant fintech community and we are trying to develop future payment methods. Angels, we have more options and we will be happy to see the cooperation between the Greek ecosystem and the Israeli one. "

Bitton: Gregoris, how do you adapt to the needs of new and young tourists? There have been no significant changes in the number of rooms and hotels in Greece in recent years.

"Greece offers a modern hotel service, but we are attentive to world trends and we are always happy to see innovation in the field."


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