Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear friends,

I am very pleased to be participating in the works of 5th Mare Forum Mykonos and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the President of Mare Forum, Mr Jannis Kostoulas for the invitation.

As policymakers, we see tourism as a strategic sector that can attract foreign investment in the long term, boost employment and promote the country’s regional development.

For the government, this sector lies at the heart of development, innovation, but also extroversion.

As the main objectives of the national tourism policy we have set the prolongment of the tourist season, the improvement of competitiveness, quality, authenticity and resilience of the tourist product and at the same time the strengthening of tourism investments with a low environmental footprint.

With more than 16,000 kilometers of coastline, more than 6,000 islands and islets, and a well-established tourism industry, Greece presents a prime investment opportunity in the Tourism sector. The country is one of the top global tourism destinations for sun and beach holidays and provides attractive propositions for year-round themed holidays.

In addition, at a national level, coastal and maritime tourism can be a powerful tool for the development of the economy with its total economic contribution amounting to an estimated 1.4-1.5% of Greece’s GDP while the indirect contribution is considered to be 4 to 5 times higher.

Consequently, at the Ministry of Tourism we remain focused on two axes: the improvement of the infrastructure of the tourist ports-marinas and the new marketing strategy that places the maritime tourism at the top of our priorities.

Within the scope of implementing our reform agenda for maritime tourism, the Committee of Tourist Ports has convened 4 times in the last 5 months, for advancement of procedures regarding 9 tourist ports throughout the country, while in September, another meeting is scheduled to take place. 

At the same time, the financial tools offered by the European Fund for Recovery and Resilience provide us with significant means for the amelioration of maritime infrastructure required by our country in order to play a leading role in maritime tourism in the near future, enhancing its sustainability and resilience internationally.

We believe it is essential to establish in our country a complete, efficient and sustainable network of tourist ports, in accordance with the legal framework recently revised and the adopted marketing strategies of our Ministry. 

In the light of the recent inclusion of the project “Upgrading Tourist Ports’’ in the Recovery and Resilience Facility, as well as the provisions of Law 4442/16 on the acceleration of business licensing, the need to promote legislation so as to simplify and optimize the framework for the establishment and operation of tourist ports was considered imperative.

In order to increase the competitiveness of our country in the field of maritime tourism infrastructure certain provisions of Law 2160/1993 were revised to increase the flexibility and speed of the procedures, along with a simultaneous emphasis on the development parameter within the framework of the New National Strategy for Tourism.

Especially for private tourism businesses, the Ministry of Tourism has initiated a series of synergies with other ministries, such as the Ministry of Development to jointly consider business subsidies and the Ministry of Environment with the “Exoikonomo” Program.

And of course, there is already the preliminary planning in place to help tourism businesses take advantage of horizontal subsidies under the NSRF programs until 2027.

We are also working closely with the Ministry of Digital Governance for the digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises, while for the development of new cultural routes that will attract tourists to new destinations, we are collaborating with the Ministry of Culture.

In addition, let us not forget that tourism contributes to regional development, social cohesion, the avoidance of desertification. It is the locomotive of the Greek economy, as 1 in 4 euros of the country’s GDP comes, indirectly or directly, from tourism activity.

Therefore, the promotion of the Greek tourism brand internationally, the enhancement of the personnel skills in tourism, the diversification of the tourism product in combination with the improvement of competitiveness are national goals that transcend parties and governments.

In conclusion, it must be realised that the challenges ahead of us, the shift to sustainability, the changes in areas such as accessibility, the digitalization of the business environment and a new framework for cooperation between tourism and the startup ecosystem is a project, which only with our joint efforts will be crowned with success.

So, I look forward to hearing your views, as well as your various concerns on the challenges and opportunities in the Designing of the Future of entrepreneurial Greece in Shipping, Maritime Tourism, Trade, Finance, and Energy.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the midst of an unprecedented international turmoil, it is important to focus on all the things that make us optimistic about a better future.

The facts are clear. We are all well aware of both the difficulties and our potential. Now is the time to act in order to turn crises into opportunities.

Thank you.