“Social policy is not a word, nor a wish list. Social policy is the institutional interventions that we undertake in order to support our fellow citizens, in practice,” the Minister of Tourism said in an interview with OPEN television.
As Mr. Kikilias noted, tourism is a key driver of economic growth, as revenues from the tourism product end up directly – as he said – in the average Greek family, employees and shopkeepers, the farmer and the owner of the small and medium enterprise.
The Minister of Tourism referred to the significant effect of tourism in reducing unemployment, as shown by the latest data from “Ergani”. As he underlined, 124,365 new jobs were created in April, mainly due to the dynamics of tourism. “This is a performance that is a record of twenty years. And equally important is the fact that 60% of these new jobs are full-time,” said Mr. Kikilias. As he stressed, the tourism workers are the ambassadors of our country abroad. “Therefore, the dividend from the success of the tourism product should come primarily to them,” he said.
Regarding the first data from the bookings and arrivals in our country, the Minister of Tourism spoke about hopeful and optimistic messages, describing the strategy of extending the tourist season – which started this year in March with the addition of new destinations throughout Greece. – and has already begun to bear fruit. “We have worked hard in the winter – with a program and a plan – all the actors involved in tourism, in cooperation with the private sector. At the moment, we have 500,000 travelers arriving at” El. Venizelos “with direct flights from America. This translates into a very large income for both Attica and Thessaloniki, as well as for the rest of Greece. Our country is in the first preferences of the Germans. It is in the first place, in the preferences of Romanian travelers “As for road tourism, one in two Serbs who are going to travel abroad this year is choosing Greece for their vacation, as my counterpart informed me during my recent trip to Belgrade.” The data from the other markets are equally encouraging, Mr. Kikilias noted, from destinations such as France, Great Britain and Israel. “We are not in a hurry to announce sizes and numbers. However, the first data from the main markets from which we attract travelers and tourists, speak of an increase of even 30% to 40% in some destinations,” he stressed.
The Minister of Tourism gave special importance to the targeted initiatives that have been taken, all this time, with the strengthening of thematic tourism. He brought the example of the inauguration of the new sports hotel of a large investment group, on Thursday, in Lemnos. This, as he said, is the second relevant investment in our country, after the corresponding hotel that was inaugurated, in the fall, in Sivota. “It will be a hotel, which in the summer months will work for tourists and travelers. And all the rest of the year to prepare teams and athletes, at the Olympic level,” he said, adding: “The crisis was an opportunity for us. The way we handled the pandemic – especially in the early stages – resulted in the rebranding of our country as a completely safe destination, so at the moment, we are not talking only about the “branded” destinations, that is, those that everyone knows “Our concern is to constantly ‘enlighten’ others. And that ‘s exactly what we’re doing.”
Finally, the Minister of Tourism focused on the “Tourism for All” program, which starts on July 1st, with a new form and structure. “It is a program that both I personally and the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Sofia Zacharaki, are proud of,” said Mr. Kikilias, referring to the Prime Minister’s decision to increase the program’s budget by 10 million euros. As the Minister of Tourism explained, the new program is based on the freedom pass, without delays and time-consuming bureaucracy. The voucher is increased to 150 euros for each beneficiary and can be used – for the whole year – either for ferry and air tickets, or for accommodation and hotels, or for health stores. “We have succeeded and succeeded in extending the program for another three years. And I think this is a great support for our fellow citizens who do not have or can not,” concluded the Minister of Tourism.