SETE: Greek tourism revenues in 2022 could reach or even exceed 2019 levels
Greek tourism revenue this season could reach or even exceed 2019 levels although 2022 is a “difficult, complicated and unpredictable” yearthe President of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Yannis Retsossaid Wednesday.
Speaking at the 30th SETE General Assembly in Athens, Retsos said that Greece and the whole world are again facing developments likely to disrupt over the course of events.
“Because of these developments, regularity as we know it has become an exception to multiple crises: healthbecause we still have the pandemic; geopolitics, such as the war in Ukraine, after Russia’s illegal invasion of an independent country; and financiallike the crisis we are going through today, with rapidly rising inflation and high costs affecting households and businesses,” he said.
As he pointed out, Greek tourism is once again called upon to adapt and rise to the occasion amidst a complex and charged environment.
“Greek tourism is called to operate again this year in difficult conditions, to face a new period of crisis, but for the umpteenth time in the last decade,” Retsos stressed, adding that once again the more the sector is called upon to support the country’s recovery effort.
“Let us not forget that Greek tourism, in the great economic crisis of 2010, but also during the years of the pandemic, supported incomes and created many jobs… And that is exactly what the sector did last year,” said the president of SETE, pointing out that Greek tourism has managed to stay afloat in 2021 beyond forecasts and in an environment of unprecedented difficulties.
Last year, tourist arrivals in Greece reached 14.7 million and travel receipts amounted to 10.7 billion euros, with a 27% increase in average spending per capita compared to 2019.
“The ‘Greece’ brand has persisted, grown stronger and contributed to the maximum so that Greek tourism remains strong, competitive and this year, in 2022, to match and possibly exceed 2019 revenuessaid Retsos.
According to recent data, travel intentions for Greece are strong this year despite the pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war.
As an indication, statistics published by the Bank of Greece show that arrivals and incomes in Greece are increasing month by month.
Tourism should not be taken for granted
During his speech, the president of SETE underlined that Greek tourism cannot always be considered as a “given source of income” for the country during extreme situations.
“This cannot always be taken for granted as tourism is a dynamic and complex process, which requires constant adaptation. It requires planning, support and strategy in difficult times as well as in good times,” said Retsos, adding that no one should rest on their laurels.
“Today, when things seem to be going much better, we have to be even more careful. No one should be comfortable due to ‘record numbers’,” he stressed.
Zero tolerance for poor working conditions
Later in his speech, the President of SETE addressed the issue of staff shortages in tourism as well as reports of poor working conditions and low salaries.
He said that the legislation must be respected by all and that SETE has a zero tolerance approach towards poor working conditions.
“It is the only way to protect our product because offering quality tourism with workers in dodgy conditions cannot exist. And for this very reason, the State must carry out strict and constant controls in order to ‘identify violators… All professionals must strictly abide by the laws without exception,’ he said.
Retsos stressed that SETE is ready to start a dialogue with all stakeholders, social partners and the State on the issue. He noted that, among other things, ways to subsidize workstations must be found and winter employment policies (due to the seasonality of the sector) must also be discussed.
PM: Tourism must be “attractive” for its employees
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also highlighted the lack of staff in the tourism sector which, as he said, “is becoming threatening”.
Speaking via video message at SETE’s general assembly, the Greek prime minister said new approaches to the matter were needed.
“These include extend the tourist season and also by connect tourism with other activities from autumn,” he said.
“But it also requires investing in the human factor. Because tourism should be attractive not only to visitors but also to those who work in the sector,” said Mitsotakis, adding that better salaries and working conditions are essential.
“Only a happy employee is a productive employee both for themselves and for the company they work for,” he added.
Referring to this year’s season, the Prime Minister said the signs were “extremely encouraging”.
However, he noted that tourism is once again facing new challenges as the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupts international travel, causing an energy crisis and soaring prices.
“This means that the cost of services is rising and the purchasing power of millions of people is reduced, while at the same time the climate crisis and the development of technology are now rapidly changing the consumption habits of visitors,” he added.
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