The Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is in Greece since last Tuesday as he accepted the invitation of the Greek Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura. After meeting the Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Mr. Rifai spoke at the workshop organized by the Ministry of Tourism under the title “Destination Greece – 365 days”.
“Greece is a succes story in tourism during the last 2-3 years, especially if we consider the special conditions and challenges the country had to face on all levels”, he stated to newmoney.gr.
Mr Rifai added that for an outside observer, with the geopolitical conditions in the wider region, the economic crisis and the refugee issue, he would expect Greece to go from bad to worse. Instead of that, there was an increase of arrivals on a percentage higher than the world average.
For Mr. Rifai what happened was a miracle as ther ewas the necessary political will as well as the positive impression around the world that Greece is a place where human rights are respected and regardless of the country’s problems. The Greeks turned the problem into an advantage for the tourism image of the country by projecting the Greek hospitality.
Mr. Rifai underlined the fact that there is no competition in the area when it comes to tourism, as the more people come to the Mediterranean, the more will come to Greece eventually. For the Secretary-General, the greatest asset for Greece is its people, as they make the visitors feel welcome.
The negative aspect of the country for Mr. Rifai is the low confidence Greece has demonstrated, as it should make more “fuzz” about its successes instead of what hasn’t been done yet.