Every success has two parents. Confidence and preparation. Greek tourism has every reason to be confident.
Our country performed very well in the high stakes issue of health safety during last year’s season and has won the vote of confidence. Today the demand for the Greek touristic product is exceptionally high as we can easily determine.
Nevertheless, self-confidence is not enough. To turn this demand into bookings and occupancy rates, organised preparation is required.
The first and foremost challenge is the improvement of the pandemic’s indexes. As long as the country remains in red it is futile to expect tourism.
As long as it remains in red, the businesses will go deeper into red as well.
Reversely, tourism will only be given a green light if Greece shows up green in the pandemic tracking map. This requires intensification of the vaccination program, as well as a higher standard of personal responsibility regarding the observance of safety measures.
Absurd corona-parties and a high rate of people refusing to be vaccinated, do not befit a country that wants to be a global tourist destination and whose economy is highly dependent on tourism proceeds.
In this light, on behalf of HHF, we asked that priority for vaccination should be extended to people working in the tourism industry, and we contacted all member-hotel associations to let them know they should encourage their staff to proceed with enlisting for vaccination promptly.
Vaccination may not be mandatory, but it is a matter of personal responsibility and the tourism sector should be among the first to spread the message of safety and public health protection.
The next step for appropriate preparation has to do with the situation in our land borders. We asked for immediate actions regarding the upgrade and staffing of our land borders, so that visitors passing through will expect less waiting time.
It would be catastrophic to witness again scenes of endless queues and exasperation. Travelling by car is now an important part of tourism, affecting not only northern Greece but also the mainland.
Hours-long queuing in a global destination is not a good match and we must prove in fact, that last year’s fiasco is a lesson learned.
The implementation of standardised rules across Europe regarding travelling, is of grave importance. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis undertook preemptive relevant initiatives which resulted in the European Commission voicing its intent to enact green digital certification.
All technical issues and details that will render it functional, are still to be defined. There is pressure from the countries of the South in view of the upcoming season, but the European North is stalling resulting in time being wasted and negative feelings created to potential visitors, in the absence of clear rules.
In sum, the opening of tourism is not simply a matter of setting a date. Success will not fall from the sky. The best we all hope for from this year’s season, is something we must earn with continuous and consistent effort.