Elena Kountoura's interview to Tornos News: Strategic planning for 4 years, with a vision for Greece to become one of the five top destinations worldwide

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Elena Kountoura's interview to Tornos News: Strategic planning for 4 years, with a vision for Greece to become one of the five top destinations worldwideAlternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, in an exclusive interview to Tornos News, underlines that the ministry's planning for the coming year does not have an opportunitic nature and is not aimed at temporary benefits, based on tourism problems

Geopolitical developments in our region form an unusual environment with a significant impact on tourism in the Eastern Mediterranean. Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, in an exclusive interview to Tornos News, underlines that the ministry's planning  for the coming year does not have an opportunitic nature and is not aimed at temporary benefits, based on tourism problems in competitor countries. Stability in peace and cooperation in the region, she says, is more beneficial to Greek tourism.

In the interview, Ms. Kountoura reveals that:

** The 2016 campaign promotes Greece as a globally attractive destination, enhances its image as a safe holiday resort and highlights its comparative advantages as a four-season vacation country.

** The campaign will be implemented around the axes of tourism season extension, thematic tourism development , and the emergence of new, unknown so far, destinations that can become widely popular in the international market.

** The Russian market is a strategic choice for Greek tourism. Therefore, communication and operational activities present a long-term target. The Greek-Russian Year of 2016 provides an opportunity for renewed interest of Russian tourists to Greece.

** A new framework for the development of alternative and thematic forms of tourism will be formed with the ministry establishing an independent Alternative Tourism Department .

 ** "Our vision", she states, "is to establish Greece as one of the top five global destinations by the implementation of our four-year strategic plan. We believe this objective to be perfectly attainable, with the cooperation and concurrence of the country's tourism community in this national effort."

The interview's full text follows:

Greek tourism achieved in 2015 a new record in arrivals and revenues, continuing growth for a third consecutive year. The new year comes with many geopolitical developments in our region and the terrorist attacks in Paris, shaping new data on the movement of tourists. Do you think that Greek tourism will emerge victorious through these developments?

- International concern about geopolitical developments in the region and emerging overseas bookings transfer trends for early 2016 prevent at this time safe estimates of the extent to which tourists flow to specific markets and regions will eventually be affected.

In planning for the new year, and despite the first positive messages about Greece, we remain vigilant considering the data as they are continuously formed, since tourism globally is a sensitive sector constantly influenced by international developments.

Our actions do not have an opportunistic character and are not aimed at temporary benefits that may arise from adversities concerning tourist arrivals in neighboring and competing countries. Stability in peace and cooperation in the region shall benefit tourism much more throughout Eastern Mediterranean and, hence, Greece, as well. But this does not mean of course undermining our potential to directly and continuously strengthen our penetration in all target markets and thereby draw tourists, who will consciously choose Greece as their first preference and not as an alternative, during subsequent years.

- What will be the philosophy of the campaign, to be developed by Greek National Tourism Organization in international markets during 2016?

- We build on the results of tourism policy we implemented intensively during the year and the success of 2015, a record year on the performance of Greek tourism, and we continue to target the quantitative and qualitative increase those figures.

The campaign of 2016 highlights Greece as a globally attractive destination, enhances its image as a safe destination, and emphasizes its comparative advantages as a destination for four seasons.

Throughout the campaign, we put emphasis on infinite choices and unique experiences that our guests can enjoy, because we offer a unique group of islands in the Mediterranean, we also have a great mainland and as a destination we can satisfy even the most demanding guests.

The campaign will be implemented around the axes of tourist season extension, thematic tourism development, and the emergence of new, hitherto unknown destinations abroad that we seek to become widely popular in the international market.

- There are many expectations for increased attraction of Russian tourists in 2016, after the events in Turkey and Egypt. Will the Greek National Tourism Organization organize a special campaign in Russia? Can the consular authorities of our country meet the increased demand for Russians traveling to Greece?

- Russia is a priority market for Greek tourism and by implementing the appropriate actions it can emerge in the long run as a stable and strong "visitor tank". Russians have proven that they love Greece and Greek people, our culture and history, our spiritual wealth.

In 2016, we estimate that interest of Russian tourists will be regenerated and since it has already been declared officially as the "Greek-Russian Year" we can improve tourism relations by multiple bilateral cultural and other events that we have planned across Greece.

Strengthening our presence in the Russian market through communication and operational activities is our strategic choice. At the same time, we will strengthen our cooperation with Russian tour operators and closing agreements to enhance tourist flow to our country in 2016.

Facilitating entry procedures in our country is of course an issue that concerns us particularly and already jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are working on all possible ways that will facilitate the rapid adoption of the new biometric visas from non-Schengen countries that constitute target markets. 


- What legislative interventions have you planned in tourism and when will they pass through Parliament?

In 2016, we will design and promote legislative measures for ski resorts and spas, thus setting the stage for improving respective tourism infrastructure. These two new initiatives are added to the recent interventions during the second half of 2015 for the establishment of functional specifications and licensing issues regarding mountaineering shelters and organized tourist camps (campsites).

At the same time, we shall shape the new framework for development of alternative and thematic forms of tourism in the country, and soon we will be able to announce the new enactments.

Our priority this year is to make critical changes in tourism education. We design a new and comprehensive framework that will come to restore long-term problems and shortcomings of the past, and will enhance and refine training programs of the country's human resources potential, which is the most emblematic face of Greek tourism. At the same time, we are preparing legislation that would give solutions to outstanding issues and needs of various sectors of the tourism market. These regulations together with additional announceable interventions will gradually be tabled during the year.

- How will you support the effort for 12-month tourism season, which, for years, has never become more than words...

- As I mentioned already, the new framework for development of alternative tourism in Greece is already being determined and this we believe will give significant impetus to attracting visitors during all four seasons and twelve months of the year. In this direction, goes our decision to form an independent Alternative Tourism Management Department at the ministry, concentrating on the promotion of short and medium-term thematic forms of tourism, cultural, religious, medical, thermal spring, rural, gastronomy and Mediterranean diet, conference, marine, athletes and coaches, winter and luxury, as well as city breaks.

We proceed already in agreements with foreign tour operators for season extension and advertise winter packages, tourism packages in Greek urban centers and programs of alternative forms of tourism in popular four-season, rising domestic destinations in the islands and the mainland.

In cooperation with the Regions and local communities, we shape specialized products and complex tourist packages which will be addressed to appropriate target markets, where we estimate that we will have the maximum response, through the Greek National Tourism Organization and our Promotion and Marketing Programme

Our vision is to establish Greece as one of the top five global destinations by the implementation of our four-year strategic plan. We believe this objective to be perfectly attainable, with the cooperation and concurrence of the country's tourism community in this national effort.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

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