Greece aims to be 'center of culture and sustainability' post pandemic
WHAT'S THE STORY?
As a country economically reliant on tourism, the pandemic travel restrictions have left Greece on its knees financially. Officials say they are willing to open to travelers from countries with strong vaccination programs, but just how prepared are they and what will be different about a Greek retreat?
MEET THE EXPERT
Angela Gerekou is President of the Greek National Tourism Organization, the governmental board for the promotion of tourism within Greece.
Gerekou was elected member of the Greek Parliament for Corfu in the 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2012 national elections and has served the Greek government as Deputy Minister for Culture and Tourism (2009-2010) and Deputy Minister for Culture (2014-2015).
WHAT'S THEIR MESSAGE?
Telling The Agenda with Stephen Cole that Greece is open for business, Gerekou expressed how important tourism is to Greece's GDP and how every effort is being made to prepare for the return of overseas visitors.
"Our strategy is to be as safe as much as possible," she said. "I know it's not easy this year. We'll have the pandemic and the measures. They're not quite as we want them, but every day is a little bit better. We have tools that we can use as safety nets.
"Every country must be very focused, first of health, but then you have to not make visitors feel that they're coming to a huge hospital… so it's a challenge for us."
Gerkou wants Greece to a global center of sustainable tourism by 2030, and the country has been using the travel break to improve its tourism strategy.
"The Greek National Organization is preparing a huge campaign based on a different kind of model of tolerance, because we see the crisis as an opportunity to change the model of our tourism," she said.
ALSO ON THE AGENDA
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European Travel Commission CEO Eduardo Santander says he's optimistic about travel for summer 2021 but warns people should not repeat the mistakes of last year.
Bjorn Tore Larsen, CEO of newly-founded Norse Atlantic Airways, explains his hopes for a great travel take-off by the end of 2021.