Greece’s Ministry of Tourism is stepping up efforts to diversify the tourist product of the country by drafting a new agrotourism plan aimed at channeling revenues into local communities. The plan, which should help create still more jobs in the sector, will reportedly link primary agriculture production with tourism.
Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis was at the AgriBusiness Forum 2020 held in Athens on Wednesday, speaking about challenges Greece faces in the wake of COVID-19. The meetup, “Food Safety, Security & Resilience: Pressing Challenges in the Covid-19 Era and Beyond”, was a soapbox for Theoharis to discuss the ministry’s big bet on rebooting tourism this season.
The minister was cited by GTP saying the focus of the restart was “the safe opening of tourism, while maintaining the quality characteristics of the domestic tourism product.” Mr. Theoharis went on to say:
“The ministry’s strategy focuses on sustainability, quality and authenticity of the Greek tourism product. Agrifood will play a significant role in the promotion and marketing of Greek tourism in the near future.”
The official added that a framework for special interest tourism would include incentives and tools for local farmers. Theoharis also said that the development of agrotourism is aimed at securing additional income for rural families and contribute to keeping rural communities alive.
The ministry also has plans to direct EU Recovery Fund resources at for boosting Greece’s gastronomy tourism initiative. But the political football of alternative tourism is no new news for Greek officials. For years now, Greek decisionmakers have paid lip service to agrotourism as well as culinary tourism, wine tourism, sports tourism, and wellness tourism. Despite all those efforts, all-inclusive beach stays still dominate the sector by a huge margin. Local communities have been bled to death because of the influx of budget tourists headed to the beaches via TUI and other corporate operators.
Mr. Theoharis and the Mitsotakis administration have come under fire recently for throwing open the tourism gates prematurely. Greece is now in the second wave of coronavirus cases some experts say stems from the sociological and immunological aspects of reopening the borders to tourists.