Planning the next day together: FedHATTA members brief the Minister of Tourism
On Friday, 11 September 2020, a teleconference was held between executives of FedHATTA and heads of the member associations in FedHATTA with the Minister of Tourism Haris Theocharis. The objective of the meeting was to brief the minister on the issues and problems of tourist offices due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The requests from the meeting have been distributed to all relevant Ministries.
The Minister assured the participants that the Ministry of Tourism understands the difficult position of tourist offices and their importance to the industry, and that the Ministry is making every effort to keep tourism open. At the same time, the Ministry is working to provide support for the industry, during this difficult time. There is cooperation between several Ministries on various issues of interest to the industry. The resolution of the easiest issues, which fall exclusively under the Ministry of Tourism, will be sought first, and then the remainder, which require a broader consensus.
The FedHATTA representatives in turn presented to the Minister a number of important issues faced by travel agencies:
- The sudden change in protocols for conferences.
- The labor issues, where the existing measures must be extended until the end of the crisis, and at least until March 2021.
- The financing, so that all the tourist offices can remain open until the next day.
- The non-existent assistance of the banks to the companies and the issues that arise in the context of repayable advances.
- The compensation and the age of the tourist buses.
- The fact that there should be a subsidy for airlines that continue their direct flights to destinations in our country.
- The fact that it is necessary to have a plan for employees and companies, first with a time horizon until December 2020 and then until March 2021 at least, because it is not possible to continue the current situation, where all measures are decided and announced at the last minute.
- The advertising campaign that will be needed mainly for the smaller islands, which are losing their regular customers (such as Kos and Samos in the Netherlands and Lesvos in Germany).
The Minister of Tourism thanked the representatives of FedHATTA for the good cooperation throughout the year and assured them that the Ministry and its agencies are all one team, at the moment planning the 2021 season, and looking towards 2022. Incentives are being put in place for inbound tourism from countries that, in time, are ready to travel immediately, depending on the conditions and health protocols that will prevail.
Because road access may be easier than flights, the target should be to those markets that are able to support it, with the support of specialized tour operators in Greece, as soon as travel can be allowed. At the same time, flight subsidies for airlines are also planned, especially to regional airports.
An extensive program to promote Greece abroad, giving special importance to the safety of the destination, will be implemented. This promotional program will include campaigns and funding incentives for each destination separately. A crisis management team is being formed at national level, as well as local and regional crisis teams comprising all relevant bodies and individuals.
Support for health centers on small islands and in the regions will be stepped up throughout the summer season, to support the tourists, but also the local populations, and seasonal workers.
Participants: Lysandros Tsilidis, President FedHATTA, Nicholas Kelaiditis, President of HATTA, Irini Toli, President of HAPCO, Marios Kammenos, Vice President of HATTA and Treasurer of ECTAA, Angelos Lambrou, Markos Spyromilios, Vice-President Secretary of HATTA). Also, the Presidents of the Associations of Tourist Offices: Stratos Beretis (Rethymno), Marios Bakopoulos (Samos), Panagiotis Hatzikyriakos (Lesvos), Antonis Gelasakis (Western Crete), Byron Theologis (Macedonia-Thrace), the Vice Presidents: Dimitris Diavatis (Corfu) and Savvas Kampouris (Rhodes) and the representative of the Association of Tourist Offices of Paros-Naxos, Dimitris Petropoulos.