Delphi, Greece. Photo: GTP

The recovery efforts and challenges of the 2022 tourism season will be discussed during the 7th Delphi Economic Forum 2022 that is scheduled to take place in the town of Delphi, Central Greece, during April 6-9.

Politicians, tourism officials and entrepreneurs will discuss on ways to maintain safety and accelerate tourism growth amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia – Ukraine war crisis.

The forum’s tourism agenda includes the following topics:

– growth and competitiveness opportunities for Greek tourism
– improving education, skills and employment
– investment in hospitality and tourism
– overtourism and efforts to achieve sustainable tourism.

Furthermore, during the forum, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) will present the results of its ongoing survey titled “Greek Tourism 2030 | Action Plans” that is jointly conducted by Deloitte – Remaco on behalf of its research body INSETE.

Among the forum’s speakers are Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias; Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki; Greek National Tourism Organization Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis; Tourism Policy Secretary General Olympia Anastasopoulou; SETE President Yiannis Retsos; Marketing Greece CEO Ioanna Dretta; Hellenic Chamber of Hotels President Alexandros Vassilikos; Crowne Plaza Director of Experience and Communication Emmanouela Moussama; HotelBrain Founder Panos Paleologos; SWOT Hospitality President Stelios Koutsivitis; Leopard Hospitality Leon Avigad and many more.

The theme of the 7th Delphi Economic Forum is “New realities”.

Greek culture

The forum will also attempt to highlight the challenges and opportunities for Greece’s cultural heritage with discussions focusing on the following issues:

– climate change and its impact on cultural heritage
– preservation of cultural and natural heritage
– culture innovation and systemic change
– arts and investments
– culture and gender equality.

Archaeological Museum of Delphi. Photo source: Ministry of Culture

Among the forum’s speakers are Culture Minister Lina Mendoni; British Novelist Victoria Hislop; Europa Nostra Secretary General Sneška Quaedvlieg-Mihailović; and Principal Advisor to the Greek PM George Kremlis, among many others.

The Delphi Economic Forum 2022 will take place as a live event in Delphi during April 6-9.

The forum’s sessions will be available online free of charge at www.delphiforum.gr (registration is required).

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The Greek Migration & Asylum Ministry will release two million euros to continue the funding of a tourism campaign to promote a number of islands of the Eastern Aegean that have suffered the massive influx of asylum seekers in the last years.

Dubbed “Greek 4: For You”, the campaign launched in 2020 and ran through 2021 to promote the Eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos to domestic and international travelers. (The campaign initially launched for the promotion of LesvosChiosSamos and Leros. The island of Kos was later added to the campaign.)

The continuation of the “Greek 4: For You” campaign for the 2022-2023 period was announced by Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis, following a recent meeting with the secretary general of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), Dimitris Fragakis.

GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis with Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis.

GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis with Greek Minister of Immigration and Asylum, Notis Mitarakis.

“We continue, in collaboration with GNTO, a successful program for the tourism promotion of the islands of the Eastern Aegean. Kos, Leros, Samos, Chios and Lesvos have now finally left behind the immigration crisis,” the minister said.

According to Mitarakis, the ministry is now proceeding with targeted actions to reduce the negative effects the immigration crisis left on the five islands in question.

“The first step is to restore our islands’ tourism product and consequently their image,” he said.

Aimed to boost the five islands’ tourism image both in Greece and abroad, the campaign will highlight the diversity of the destinations and showcase their archaeological sites, culinary traditions, local products, cultural wealth and special experiential experiences they can offer tourists.

“With funding from the immigration ministry and cooperation with the islands’ municipalities, we will implement a special program for their tourism promotion abroad and in the Greek market for 2022 and 2023,” GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis said.

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Extending the tourism season, increasing the sector’s added value, ensuring equal and fair distribution of tourism activity and increasing tourist spending and overnight stays are among the joint actions agreed to this week by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).

The ACCI and GNTO signed a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) during an ACCI board of directors meeting attended by Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias and GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis.

“In one more turbulent period, Greece not only maintains, but also strengthens the reputation it established during the pandemic. The reputation of a modern and secure European country. I believe the dynamics that developed in the previous years regarding arrivals, will be difficult to reverse, despite the turmoil,” said ACCI President Ioannis Bratakos.

The head of ACCI went on to stress the importance of the Greek tourism sector as a driving force of the economy and creating thousands of jobs,  particularly in challenging times, demonstrating its resilience to market shocks.

“Coordination, cooperation and smart partnerships between all parties involved are key: from government and local administration to businesses and society,” said Bratakos referring to the MoC.

“Our goal is through substantial joint actions to add value to business, tourism and to the national economy,” he added.

Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, ACCI President Ioannis Bratakos and GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis

Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, ACCI President Ioannis Bratakos and GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis

“If we’ve gained anything in the last two years of the pandemic, it is unity and cooperation. This is a great legacy for Greek tourism. We all worked together under extremely adverse conditions and with constructive cooperation we achieved and brought good results in 2020 and 2021,” said Fragakis. “Today, we move forward and team up with the business community.”

On his part, Kikilias reiterated that tourism was one of the country’s main business activities and as such a key revenue generator that not only supports Greek families but can also play a crucial role in Greece’s post-Covid-19 recovery.

“We support the hotel industry, but also the hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens who are involved in trade, especially small and medium-sized businesses, the various services that are interconnected with the tourism product,” he said.

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Madrid, Spain

The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) has reopened its branch office in Madrid aiming to promote Greece as a destination to Spanish travelers.

After remaining closed for almost a decade, the GNTO office in Spain restarted its operation a few weeks ago and is housed in the Greek Embassy in Madrid.

Among the main responsibilities of the new office is the promotion of Greece to the market of Latin America.

In an announcement the GNTO cited data that shows the great interest of travelers from Latin American countries for travel to Europe and especially to Greece.

“Greece is a destination that can offer strong emotions to its visitors, whether they choose to get familiar with its ancient culture and gastronomy, or wish to go on a leisure trip to the Mediterranean or experience other forms of tourism,” the GNTO said.

According to GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis, with the reopening of Spain’s office the organization also aims to explore the potential of Greece’s opening to new markets.

“Starting from Spain we also plan to open new offices abroad in the next months. Greece has the potential to enhance its presence in areas that were not – until now – among its priorities,” he said.

Fragakis thanked the Greek Embassy in Madrid for its contribution and wished the best of luck to the executives of GNTO’s new office.

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Aiming to promote Greece’s winter tourism options, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) recently supported the Pierra Creta international mountain skiing event.

A bi-annual mountaineering event, Pierra Creta was held on Mt Psiloritis on the island of Crete, during March 4 and 5.

According to GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis, the organization’s new strategy includes the promotion of winter tourism also by supporting and promoting events that highlight the winter season in Greece.

“Pierra Creta is an excellent international event that has been running many years by a very active group of people on Crete… We will continue to support the race because such initiatives are the proof that our country can offer excellent travel experiences and services to its visitors during winter,” he said.

Over 160 athletes took part  in Pierra Creta this year. They came from 11 countries, namely Austria, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, the US, Germany, the Czech Republic, Norway, Italy, Slovenia and Greece, and competed on a slope of Mt Psiloritis, registered by National Geographic as one of the 100 best descents in the world.

In addition, the race was covered by a group of specialized reporters from Austria, Italy and Germany.

Greece last year launched a winter marketing campaign promoting its mainland destinations. Under the title “Greece does have a winter”, the campaign aims to promote winter tourism and all the activities guests can enjoy during the season.

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A 10-year strategy to meet new traveler demands in the post-Covid-19 era is the next step to ensure Greece maintains its competitive edge as a leading tourism destination, said Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki during her visit to Heraklion, Crete.

Citing pre-booking data collected so far, Zacharaki reiterated that signs for the year ahead were “encouraging”.

“Those who have the pulse of the first bookings tell us that they are up by 30 percent. The messages are very optimistic from our traditional markets such as the UK, Germany and France, but of course, we never stop looking to new markets,” she said.

Zacharaki went on to express concern for travelers from Russia and the Ukraine in view of recent developments, clarifying that tourism is influenced by international developments.

She went on to refer to ministry initiatives and actions, including the creation of new specialized seals for destinations and enterprises such as breweries, wineries and olive mills, as well as hotels that offer pet-friendly services and businesses running glamping accommodation sites.

Zacharaki said a relevant ministerial decision would soon enact the seals which will help enterprises boost revenues and at the same time enhance the visitor experience.

She also announced ministry plans to create a National Wine Tourism Council as part of efforts to tap into enotourism and a website where all visitable and ministry-certified wineries would be listed. Zacharaki said a new wine tourist conference was scheduled for Crete. 

Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki

The minister went on to underline the importance of EU and national recovery funding, 17 million euros of which will be channeled into agrotourism and gastronomy.

She referred to the key role special destination management bodies will play in assisting local governments to meet their tourism goals through public-private partnerships.

Lastly, Zacharaki said a 10-year tourism strategy focusing on the sustainability of the sector had been submitted to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis 

Looking ahead, the minister said Greece can lead the way in the next “golden decade”.

In relevant news, echoing Zacharaki and Tourism Minister Vassilis KikiliasGreek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis also expressed his confidence for a good year ahead citing pre-bookings for the Clean Monday (March 7) three-day holiday. 

Fragakis also presented public broadcaster ERT with the GNTO’s new campaign promoting weekend city break holidays. Greekend* – *end your week like a Greek, is part of the ongoing “All You Want is Greece” campaign.

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The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) on Thursday launched its latest campaign, which is focused on highlighting Greece’s destinations ideal for weekend getaways, in an aim to attract more international visitors to the country’s cities that have suffered tourism losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new creative, with the message “greekend: End your week like a Greek”, is the latest installment in the GNTO’s main “All you want is Greece” campaign and looks to promote the country’s city break destinations by highlighting the beautiful side of life in Greek cities and the rich experiences that guests can enjoy during a greekend*.

“The campaign for greekend* – the Greek weekend – aims to promote a complete tourist product, which can easily compete with other well-known three-day destinations in Europe; and promote Greek cities that offer experiences of gastronomy, entertainment, culture, leisure and quality hospitality services,” GNTO’s secretary general, Dimitris Fragakis, said.

Make your weekend a greekend* – the concept

Greece’s new city break campaign aims to establish the new greekend* concept and promote all major Greek cities that have connections with foreign airports and can guarantee a successful weekend getaway.

The new campaign kicked off on Thursday with Athens and Thessaloniki being “re-introduced” to the world as two major cities ideal for lively city break holidays – places to spend a wonderful urban weekend full of experiences thanks to the excellent weather, the short distances to sites and the innumerable choices for food, drink and entertainment. In other words, all that is needed to keep a visitor “busy” almost the whole weekend.

The campaign’s video features a number of distinct experiences visitors can choose from during a weekend in both Greek cities – from taking long strolls, going to museums and art exhibitions to shopping, taking walks on the beach, having coffee in an outdoor cafe, tasting delicious food and checking out the nightlife.

According to Greek Tourism Minister, Vassilis Kikilias, through the campaign the tourism ministry and the GNTO are inviting visitors to discover the known and unknown corners of Greek cities.

“We are starting with Athens and Thessaloniki by highlighting their culture, gastronomy, trade, entertainment, hotels, and of course their absolute comparative advantages: the climate and their people,” Kikilias said.

The Greek minister underlined that the campaign aims to support Greece’s year round city hotels, especially in Athens and Thessaloniki, that have been hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This campaign is the first in a series of actions that we will carry out to invite visitors to safely enjoy an authentic Greek weekend in the major cities of Greece,” he said.

The new “greekend: End your week like a Greek” tourism promotional campaign will last two months and initially target ten markets that have shown particular interest in Greece, including France, Germany, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Israel. The campaign will be repeated frequently throughout the year.

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Photo source: Municipality of Chania

The municipality of Chania on Crete is hoping to launch Greece’s first Citizens Tourism Service Center (KEP) which would offer visitors and tourists assistance and information as well as documentation on tourism-related issues.

The initiative was tabled by Chania Mayor Panagiotis Simantirakis at a meeting on Monday with Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis and local stakeholders.

Once approved, the Tourism KEP would be set up at the Municipal Port Fund of Chania on the Venetian Port. Simandirakis confirmed that the project was nearing completion.

“Something similar has never before been implemented in the rest of the country and we are sure that this can serve as a pilot for similar interventions in other cities,” he said.

“Looking to the future, we agreed with the municipality of Chania for the first time in Greece to create a Citizens Tourism Service Center,” said Fragakis. 

“The new service will bring together all the tourist services that can be offered to visitors and tourism entrepreneurs… a one-stop tourism shop,” he added.

GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis and Chania Mayor Panagiotis Simantirakis

Other issues on the meeting agenda included preparations ahead of the opening of the tourism season, the progress of key infrastructure projects, new tourism trends post-Covid, as well as destination management and promotion options.

Describing the meeting as fruitful, Fragakis said he met with the mayor and local stakeholders to also discuss “readiness issues of the municipality of Chania for the tourist season, which will begin in a few weeks”.

“We also discussed important infrastructure projects, which the municipal authority has started and are moving ahead, and which under certain conditions can change the image of the city in the coming years, which is important for its upgrade if we really want to attract high standard tourism,” said Fragakis.

The GNTO chief expressed his confidence that 2022 would be a better year for tourism. He added that efforts were being made “to keep the good qualities of 2021, such as higher tourist spending” while working to extend the tourist season into November.

“We have the 2022 season ahead of us but it is important to start thinking about the challenges of the coming years now,” said Fragakis.

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The War Museum in Athens

The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) is taking action to promote military tourism sites in Greece including museums, historic monuments and infrastructure.

Following a memorandum of cooperation signed last year between the ministries of culture, tourism and national defense, the GNTO recently announced that it will include 27 military museums and sites across Greece in its Visit Greece official site.

An interactive map with the locations of Greece’s military museums will also be available on the Visit Greece mobile application.

Furthermore, the organization will promote the country’s military sites in international tourism exhibitions and also organize press trips for foreign journalists to Greek destinations with a rich military history.

The announcement came after a recent meeting between GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis and War Museum President Athanasios Liaskos, first Vice President Nikolaos Chionis and Special Councilor Christos Petreas at the War Museum’s premises in Athens.

During the meeting, participants also committed to continue their collaboration in order to further promote Greece’s military monuments.

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The Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge in the history of Greek tourism and the priority now is to recover lost ground and emerge stronger and more resilient, said Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis in an interview to the Athens News Agency.

Aside from adherence to preventative measures and developments on the coronavirus front, Fragakis referred to three key targets topping the GNTO, tourism ministry and government agenda for 2022.

First and foremost, said Fragakis is sustainable development aimed safeguarding Greece’s natural resources and protecting the environment – both directly linked with the country’s tourist product and both competitive advantages for decades.

Second in line is upgrading tourism-related infrastructure at major destinations, including ports, marinas and public road networks and modernizing transportation and accommodation facilities.

Third on the list of priorities is addressing the issue of seasonality particularly with regard to human resources active in tourism, which he said must include updated tourism education and improved training.

GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis.

GNTO Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis.

Looking ahead to the new year, Fragakis said extending the tourism season, opening to tourists earlier and increasing revenues were main priorities. He added that introducing new lesser known destinations as well as maintaining travel spending levels were also very important.

Greece managed to cover significant ground in 2021 with tourism revenues in the first 10 months of the year to October amounting to 10.195 billion euros compared to 4.213 billion euros in the same period in 2020 and to 17.569 billion euros in pre-Covid 2019, according to the Bank of Greece (BoG) data.

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