At the annual Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) conference last week, stakeholders discussed a new era of practices and business models for tourism. According to a report from GTP, “Redefining Realities: #someREACTdifferent” featured insights into promoting sustainability, innovation, technology, know-how, experience, and talent. Here’s a rundown of the conference highlights followed by some insight of my own.
SETE President Yiannis Retsos told an audience of key industry professionals; “Now is the time of great changes for Greek tourism”. He outlined for the audience the need for Greece tourism to “mature” via sustainable tourism, adopting innovation and technology, and so forth.
Futurist Paul Papadimitriou echoed Retsos’ sentiments and carried them a small step further in proclaiming; “A new era of travel is upon us.” After attending the conference, Papadimitriou Tweeted:
Patrik Gustavsson, CEO of The Amager Bakke Foundation proclaimed “Being sustainable can be a fun experience,” which I found refreshing. A former advisor to the Danish Ministry of Finance, Gustavsson’s experience is of the kind Greece desperately needs. For those unfamiliar, the Amager Bakke Foundation created a power plant in Copenhagen that uses furnaces, steam, and turbines that process 400,000 tons of non-recyclable waste every year as fuel for generating electricity to 60,000 houses and heat for 160,000. The plant also doubles as a ski slope for Copenhagen locals and visitors. You read correctly, and if you’ve never been to Copenhagen, the only skiing possible there years ago was water skiing.
Steve Vranakis, the former Googler who is now Chief Creative Officer at the Greek Prime Minister’s office says; “We must celebrate the culture and creativity that are happening right now.” Vranakis has been tasked with rebranding Greece. He’s a brilliant marketing guru, so no doubt Greece will have an easier time getting the right narrative. I only hope Vranakis can shake somebody hard enough to get the idea of a “European Florida” out of Greek decision-maker heads.
Dad Always Use to Say…
As for my observations on all this “sustainability magic” the top headlines at Greek Reporter jump into view. If you read Greek news as I do, the notion somebody is redefining realities takes on new meaning. For instance, American gaming giant Mohegan revealed its design on Tuesday for an Athens casino. Okay, nice. But wait. Greece is to allow offshore oil and gas drilling at more than 30 underwater sites. Hmm. Now, this could prove counter touristic productive. And, Prime Minister Mitsotakis is also bragging about forking over €300 million euro to build one natural gas-powered powerplant. Interestingly, the PM officially opened the largest wind power complex in Greece at Kafireas, on the island of Evia the other day. That €300 million euro project produces 480 GWh of power per year. Right here is a good place to share some of the dogma from this SETE conference:
“What if we could foresee the future? What if we were able to understand and comprehend what the needs of travelers will come to be? How would this knowledge affect the decisions we make today? Realizing the future is already at our doorstep is crucial.”
But we should know what the future holds if we stick to the same path. The “needs” of many travelers is going to be to stay at home. This is the real future of tourism. Greece is a “once” in a lifetime dream – and THIS is what decision-makers are going to have to come to grips with. Growth, in the way we’ve leveraged it, will cease to exist in the near term. NONE of the experts at this conference, as far as I know, are professing this.
Some of these experts at the SETE conference are well versed, prepared, and appear to be on the level as far as boosting Greece into a sustainable future. Others are rehashing what we technology analysts have been saying for over a decade. A “new era” is PR fluff for when you have nothing significant to add. The complexion of Greece tourism is about all that actually needs changing. By that I mean, the growth matrix government and tourism stakeholders have been inextricably tied to, it cannot continue.
Profit can still be a prime mover, but the mediocrity that has been Greek entrepreneurship and politics must stop. Right here I’ll mention the €30,000 and €15,000 euro SETE conference gold and silver sponsorship fees. I’d hate to cast a shadow on the conference’s idealism, but Fraport and other privatization sponsors for Greece, they’re for sustaining Frankfurt and Luxembourg bankers and corporate profits, not Greece. Hate me, go ahead. But be nice or I’ll dig into citizens hating the idea of skyscrapers over Attica.
Funny how many Hellinikon project stakeholders are sponsors of sustainability public relations events… Probably coincidence.
Oil drilling offshore? Really? Can you think of a potential nightmare if there were an equivalent of Deepwater Horizon off the coast of Crete, for instance? Or, let’s take the proclamation the other day that Greece’s only future is to become “Europe’s Florida.” Can anyone out there envisage what a cultural and environmental catastrophe that would be? And the headline “Greek Olives and Olive Oil Exempt From US Tariffs on EU Goods,” does that sound like a Trump administration trade-off for oil concessions? Talk about “Redefining Realities!”
I’ve no time for deeper analysis here, but the “mature” Greek tourism indexes SETE President Yiannis Retsos talked about in his remarks does not need to resemble Ft. Lauderdale or the Everglades, much less Disney World or even the French Riviera. And Paul Papadimitriou Tweeting the life of a super capitalist airport lounge junkie does not jibe with SETE sustainability prayers for me. Maybe they just invited him because he was part of the Tsipras “Reload Greece” circus in 2018?
Alejandro Barrera, who’s the co-founder of Tech.eu with my friend Robin Wauters, reiterated to conference attendees a valid theme, with; “Millenials look for verified authenticity.” But, it’s not just Millenials who are punching their smartphones to find value. Which leads me to the founder and editor-in-chief of WIRED UK (2008-2017), David Rowan, who kept the audience at the SETE conference spellbound with:
“Innovation relates to the business core, its aim and its ability to adapt new technology to new customer requirements so as to keep serving that aim. This mentality must be fueled throughout the company by the leadership team.”
Now, if that isn’t some rode hard and put up wet Digital Darwinism jargon. I’ll eat my friend Brian Solis’ hat if he ever wears one.
People, ministers of important things in Greece, you guys need to be determined to step up the game, or Greece is in for some even harder times. For the rest of the SETE highlights, readers can go to GTP, if you can handle the hyperbole, that is. In the meantime, I’ll leave you to figure out which of these experts is the biggest bullshit artist.
Dad always used to tell me, never bullshit a bullshit artist. Redefining realities, I just keep hearing a catchy whisper, redefining realities.
Note: The opinions expressed by the author are his own, and not necessarily those of the publisher of Argophilia Travel News.