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European Interparliamentary Conference on Tourism

Europe has become the first tourist destination in the world

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The ‘365 days – multi-destination tourism’ conference focuses on the major opportunities and challenges posed by coastal-marine and alternative – thematic forms of tourism, which may help to solve the problem of seasonal tourism, stimulating qualitative and minor forms of local development.

tourism IMG_2016_05_16_176The Speaker of the Hellenic Parliament Nikos Voutsis (see photo) launched the European Interparliamentary Conference on Tourism entitled ‘365 days – multi-destination tourism’ on May 16th-17th in the Senate Hall of the House. The conference, organised by the Greek Parliament, was presided over by the President of the Commission responsible for Tourism Production and Trade MP Hara Kafantari (pictured above Mr. Voutsis). Greetings were also addressed by the Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura (see photo below right) and the Regional Governor of Attica Rena Dourou.

tourism IMG_2016_05_16_253The anthropocentric approach of tourism is of great importance, stressed the Parliament President addressing the Conference. “In Greece, within a framework of stability and security, where there exists a touristic culture and hospitality, discussions could focus upon the sensitive and thin economic aspects of tourism, which is obviously a huge global industry. Through tourism people have the opportunity to come into contact with other cultural and universal values, to discover a different world.”

Mr. Voutsis noted that this humanistic approach for tourism is very important. “In Greece, just because we are in an economic crisis, we are placing more weight on the economic dimension of all sectors and political aspects,” adding that “it would be wrong however, to remain only on this side when we talk about tourism. I believe that there are too many sides, aspects, perspectives, approaches, routes by which people can come in touch and enrich modern civilization, but also to elevate the cultural level, solidarity and respect among peoples.”

In such a direction he reiterated that Parliaments, beyond individual laws or common EU directives, can help so that “people can be found at the centre of this very wonderful, but also in today’s business environment, very valuable sector of tourism”.

The meeting was attended by Parliamentary delegations from 15 European Union countries and from the EU accession countries. Tourism is a key sector of the European economy, producing more than 10% of the EU GDP (directly or indirectly) and employing millions of people. With its high density of businesses and wide variety of tourist attractions, it has become the first tourist destination in the world.

The Conference focused on two themes:

  • marine and coastal tourism; and
  • alternative forms of tourism.

Divided into three separate modules, in which participated 12 speakers from relevant tourism agencies and organisations in Greece and abroad, it was followed by lively discussions among participating Parliamentarians in each section.

The European Interparliamentary Conference on Tourism is a corresponding initiative, which was undertaken in 2014 by the Croatian Parliament, aimed at promoting Parliamentary dialogue, the exchange of experiences and best practices among legislators to create the framework for the enhancement and improvement of tourist services offered. Thus, through appropriate legislative actions, better employment conditions, entrepreneurship support and diffusion of the tourism surplus in society, respecting the environment and cultural heritage can be promoted.

On the second day of the conference, participants followed a busy and stimulating tour programme highlighting the strong cultural identity of Greece.

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Photos: Hellenic Parliament

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