Despite the unprecedented conditions created by the COVID-19 global pandemic, Greek tourism showed its leading face - and real leaders are forged and stand out in times of crisis.
Greek tourism rose to the occasion, opened the country to visitors and conveyed the message that life goes on while protecting effectively the health of all people and enhancing the credibility of the country which was built thanks to the excellent management of the first wave of the pandemic.
Our hospitality industry reacted in a highly responsible manner in order to ensure the public's health.
The tourist season goals in 2020 did not focus on revenue/profit or on arrival numbers; it rather focused on health, which was the ultimate goal to achieve this year and this is exactly what we did.
In record time the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels created a dedicated electronic platform through which each hotel, according to the specifications of its services, could download the respective health protocol.
The strict compliance with those protocols throughout the season safeguarded credibility in terms of health protection, while tourism opened without an epidemic outbreak in the country, until the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic in Europe.
Despite the many uncertainties prevailing today in the world, one thing remains certain for all international analysts - the world will not be the same after the pandemic.
Greek tourism capitalized on its credibility and created an invaluable legacy for the country, prepared to play a leading role in the days when global tourism recovers - provided, of course, that the industry will not rest on today’s laurels, but will respond to the current global market’s needs and trends, which involves a major, urgent challenge.
The pandemic acts as a catalyst and may accelerate our pace in getting adapted to this new demanding global environment.
In the way we have shaped our leading credibility capacities to deal with the pandemic, today we need to address its impact.
The Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, in a timely manner and in order to fulfill its institutional mission, has already put forward a robust prioritization response by means of a full range of actions and initiatives.
- The right decisions are based on the right data. Since the beginning of the pandemic until today, the HCH's Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasting (ITEP) has been carrying out a critical research project on the effects of COVID-19 on Greek hotels. Through continuous primary research in a sample which is extremely representative of the entire industry, we have been collecting data, monitoring trends, recording estimates and decoding the reality as experienced by Greek hoteliers in real time. Only a substantiated picture of the reality can help HHC to fulfil its institutional mission as state policy advisor on tourism and support the industry in these difficult times.
- Digital transformation is the only way forward. Tourism and hotels are required to adapt and streamline with a digitized global market which looks for increasingly more personalized travel experiences. That is why the HHC has timely created the CapsuleT Program, a Travel & Hospitality Accelerator, which brings together the start-up community and hotels. Two rounds have already been completed with impressive success and we move forward with the third one. In the future, digital innovation shall be driving tourism and the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels has been leading targeted actions, in order to strengthen and prepare the industry for this demanding "race".
- The future will either be sustainable or will not exist. The climate change threat, the pandemic, health being a priority and the quest for tourist experiences focusing on the authenticity of the natural environment, create new travel trends and preferences. The quality of local experience shall be playing an increasingly important role in the selection of tourist destinations. The answer must be twofold: thematic enrichment of our touristic product and organized long-term planning in terms of sustainability of destinations, which involve modern upgraded infrastructure for the management of residents and visitors' daily activities, exemplary protective policies and rational management of our huge natural assets. HCH's interventions highlight those needs while its successful "Greek Breakfast" program demonstrated the importance of the authentic gastronomic tradition and the quality of primary production. These elements are quite relevant in terms of the preferences of those new market guests and travellers, who are interested in their well-being, the healthy Mediterranean diet and the quality of locally produced authentic products.
- Hotels open to the public. The hospitality industry has greatly contributed to the economic development and social cohesion of the country. Today we are facing a major two-fold challenge: to survive and move forward in order to recover the soonest possible. At the same time, we are fully aware of our social responsibility, as demonstrated by our great initiative "Hotels For", a dedicated body responsible for the implementation of social responsibility actions, in compliance with the UN goals for sustainable development.
- Knowledge is both a shield and a compass. A shield which protects us today against threats and dangers as well as the compass to lead us to successes the day after the pandemic. That is why knowledge is a horizontal priority well embedded in all the above. In order to meet this need, the HCH established the International Hospitality Forum, already organized successfully three times, which today is recognized as a leading institution in the hospitality industry for discussions and the exchange of information and know-how.
We live in a world where information is the most relevant resource for business development and operations. Timely and valid information is extremely significant in responding effectively and consistently to the new reality.
That is why the International Hosting Forum strives to constantly ensure that our members have access to knowledge and are well prepared to identify and adopt the best practices in the industry.
Under the difficult conditions that the hospitality industry is experiencing in Greece and worldwide, we respond with more knowledge and further strengthening of the international character of the Forum.
The International Hospitality Forum is organized by Hellenic Change of Hotels for Monday, November 23, 2020, in strategic partnership with Phocuswright, the world leader in the primary hospitality research field.
This year, in the aftermath of the pandemic, which overthrew the familiar landscape, the works of the Forum shall focus on the hospitality industry's capacity to adapt to the rapid changes and the long-term viability of the tourism product. Due to COVID-19 measures the event shall be delivered online.
The Forum will take place on the Swapcard innovative digital platform. Every user, at the safety of his/her office, anywhere in the world, can actively participate in the Forum by asking questions, scheduling One-to-One calls, browsing the digital booths of the sponsors and of course watching the panel discussions both in real time or at their convenience in case of prior engagements on this date.
In particular, the 4th International Hospitality Forum content shall be as follows:
- Presentation by Phocuswright on the recovery of travels in Europe and the world
- Thematic panel on "Strategies for Operating in a Post COVID-19 World"
- Thematic panel on "Sustainability - The Future of Travel"
- Interview with high level guest - CEO of a global tourism brand.
The Hellenic Chamber of Hotels is proud of what it has achieved thanks to the International Hospitality Forum which is confirmed by the trust and cooperation of top leaders in the global tourism industry such as Phocuswright.
We give real meaning to the international character of the Forum; in fact, this online version addresses the whole international community. Anyone interested in the developments in the hospitality industry, from anywhere in the world, can become part of the 4th International Hospitality Forum.
Greece is a small country and yet it is a major global tourism player. We can and must be at the forefront of developments in the global industry. Success should not be the next stop of a scheduled journey.
We need to be alert, work hard and above all be knowledgeable of the environment in which we operate. In the worse context in modern history, the hospitality industry is called to face the great double challenge of surviving and taking a huge leap forward. The future always belongs to the leaders who shape it and not to the followers. The challenges are enormous.
The future of Greek tourism shall be determined by acknowledging challenges and be accurate in our response. We are confident, we trust in the industry and are knowledgeable of its capabilities, and we have a strong scientific backup and a clear vision with regard to the Greek touristic product.
This is why we believe that it is up to us to reconfirm our leading position in the global market which is expected to recover in the seasons to come.
The 4th International Hospitality Forum
Program, speakers and registration available now.