Initiative to enhance the role of tourism in socio-economic development of the country
Greek Tourism 2020: A proposal for the new development model
Friday, January 14, 2011
"The initiative 'Greek Tourism 2020' aims to highlight the significant role of tourism in the economic and social development of the country. The proposal for a new model of development of Greek tourism aims to become the starting point for implementing what is self-evident for the Greek economy and society. This is the central message of the study of SETE, entitled: "Greek Tourism 2020: Proposal for a new development model."The study is exclusively sponsored by Eurobank EFG.
During yesterday's presentation of the study, in the presence of political leadership for tourism, the president of SETE, Nikos Angelopoulos said: "The proposal for a new model of development of Greek tourism is basically a policy proposal, which should mainly managed or even better impose a major cultural change. Today's romantic approach with which the public sector is facing its relationship with tourism, has continually and consistently become a technocratic approach. The current approach of the private sector, characterized by inter-sectoral introversion should be developed into an extrovert leading role. The awareness of the state, in its broad sense, that tourism is an essential sector of the economy with its broader synergies with other sectors, with openness over 80% of its activity, with business and labor intensive and its larger contribution to regional development compared with other sectors of the economy, is a prerequisite for any development effort. So far the public contribution both to the competitiveness of the Greek tourism product and the creation of appropriate and necessary infrastructure is weak. Therefore, changing the attitude of political forces against the very important sector of economy, tourism, is crucial for the future of Greek tourism."
On the side of Eurobank EFG, Mr Nicholas Nanopoulos, CEO, and Nikolaos Karamouzis, deputy chief executive, reiterated once again the strategic option of the Bank for improving competitiveness and supporting outward Greek firms and between them, tourist firms. Specifically, Mr. Nanopoulos stated in his speech: "Over time, tourism contributes significantly to economic growth and employment, in its broad sense contributes with approximately 17-18% of the GDP of our country. The current challenges for our tourism, require interventions which should be taken with insight, modern concept and vision, not only from the state but also private entities. A long-term planning is needed to identify alternative forms of development in this area with quality standards and environmental friendliness. The common objective is to move on a different from the past model of development concerning tourism, and produce a diverse, attractive and competitive tourist product which will be displayed dynamically and respond to changing global demand".
"As a Group, we are firm patrons of Greek tourism, with a current portfolio of loans to other tourism businesses over 1.5 billion euro", Mr Ballis said, adding that "this amount only represents approximately 20% of total funding of the tourism industry in Greece, making Eurobank EFG leader in financing. We are flexible in restructuring hotel debts, having completed a total of €400 million. We strengthen the capital of tourism enterprises, having allocated over €270 million to more flexible funding, such as discounted claims by Tour Operators and hotel renovations, as well as other forms of capital".
Mr George Drakopoulos, general manager of SETE, presenting the proposal for a new model of development of Greek tourism, noted that an integrated approach in each case is open to interventions towards improvement. The proposal describes the framework and guidelines of the new model by analyzing the developmental aspects of Greek tourism over the next decade.
The development model is primarily determined by the role of tourism in the overall economic policy of the country and is influenced by the type and degree of development of synergies with other sectors of the economy.
The current data for the Greek tourism record an over-concentration of the offer, with 65% of beds to be concentrated in four (4) regions and seasonality of demand, with 50% of arrivals to occur within three (3) months.
The performance of Greek tourism over the last three years does not exceed 80% of capacity, while the oversupply of beds close to 400,000 beds.
The new growth model requires a minimum number of institutional and other transformations: independent Ministry of Tourism, the establishment of the Secretariat of Tourism to all Ministries, Permanent Secretary of Tourism, or at least a five- year coordination of the competent ministries, of the Office of the Prime Minister and bipartisan consensus concerning the manner of administration and management of tourism. In terms of supply: preservation of the "sun and sea" model, with an upgrade of its quality and continuous improvement of value for money. Simultaneously, special forms of tourism should be developed, which will arise through detailed segmentation of demand.
The main aim in approaching demand in the new model of development of Greek tourism is to create structures and culture of marketing, as well as changes in attitude, as well as in organization.
The continuous research and study of markets is the minimum prerequisite for success, while the establishment of a company focusing on the online marketing of Greek tourism as well as the creation of strategic alliances with airlines for the creation of new direct flights to the Greek tourist destinations, are necessary.
The establishment of communication mechanisms for crisis management should also be included in our strategic priorities.
To increase demand, tourism should create synergies and economies of scope in areas or sectors such as culture, sport, education, medical services and gastronomy.
The holiday home is among the five (5) most important reasons for which Europeans travel and should be a development and investment priority for Greek tourism.
Investments in technology, especially concerning human resources, are even more important. The digital strategy is not working with technology. It focuses on man and his desire to be connected with what he likes.
The training of human resources, both on initial and ongoing level of training and specialization, is the major factor in the effort to provide quality services and improve productivity, while ensuring flexibility in the labor market should be a priority of employment policy in tourism.
Today I attended the long-awaited presentation ofa new study – proposal for a new Greek Tourism Development Model, prepared by the greek association of tourism enterprises, SETE, which represents the interests of large tourism businesses. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, there was nothing new therein, apart from some truisms and neoliberal recipes for more golf, holiday homes, 5-star hotels and the removal of all ‘bureaucratic’ obstacles that scare (?) investors planning mega-resorts.
Although the proposal contains some telling statistics indicating that greek tourism has already reached stagnation – for example excessive hotel construction during 2000-2009 which has resulted in a 400,000 bed surplus with the highest increase 154% in 4 and 5-star hotels -- it fails to interpret these very numbers, arguing for more expansion, and more luxury hotels.
But what was particularly annoying and regressive was its critique of small-size (locally-owned) tourism businesses and of alternative forms of tourism, which it considers as a mere add-ons to the Sun-sea-sand model ‘which should not be abandoned’. Other key features are its total lack of attention to (serious) hotel worker issues , an arrogance towards elected governments including the strange demand for a permanent secretary for tourism which will not change when there is a government change (!) and its indifference towards trains and other forms of ecological transport, of ecotourism, agrotourism, of linking tourist consumption to local biological agriculture production. At least the importance of social networks and of the Internet is mentioned, possibly as a result of holding an online dialogue prior to the release of the study.
The presentation, was held in a packed old-fashioned ballroom at the historic, lavish Grand Bretagne hotel, which faces the Parliament, the hotel being a frequent (soft) target of demonstrators protesting austerity measures in recent months. Fittingly, it was raining heavily when the presentation ended, probably making the police happy as the next demonstration was about to start held, this time protesting the arrival of Avigdor Lieberman.
Meanwhile, under the pretext of the fiscal crisis / near bankrupcy and being pressured by the IMF and European lenders, the government is planning to use 'fast-track' procedures to circumvent environmental legislation and environmentalist protests and sell large swaths of public property to mega-resort golf and holiday home developers. Infamous planned pharaonic projects include 'Cavo Sidero' in Crete and 'Atalanti Hills' in Fthiotida prefecture which have both been successfully delayed so far by local environmentalists. Both projects, are undertaken by well-connected foreign firms, masquerading as 'green-friendly' thanks to the assistance of famous international consultants. More later...