Greece’s Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias addressed the 9th Turkey-Greece Tourism Forum and the 4th Joint Committee on Tourism on Wednesday which are taking place in the Turkish city of Izmir (Smyrna) on November 17-18.
“We live in sensitive times, which are occasionally difficult, but we must all agree that tourism and travel is the framework in which we can and shall be able to work together even better and cooperate,” said Vassilis Kikilias.
Kikilas welcomed the fact that the joint committee and forum were meeting again in a constructive way after 10 years and said that Greece’s goal was to increase the number of cities and islands that are linked by ferries.
“If I had to prioritise our goals based on the pandemic and respect for health and hygiene protocols – where both countries have made significant strides in this direction by strengthening their national health systems – it would be to reduce bureaucracy and facilitate travel from Turkey to Greece but also from Greece to Turkey,” Kikilias said.
The minister said that visitors from Turkey were “welcome, quality tourists” and that Greece wanted to increase the tourist flow from Turkey.
Kikilias referred to the delegation accompanying him to Izmir, noting that he was a “practical person” and had brought technocrats, professionals and airline company executives to cooperate with the Turkish side “so that we have a quantifiable result”.
Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy referred to the importance of developing cooperation between the two countries in tourism and the benefits this will bring for their relations, as well as the significance of a temporary visa and how useful this will be for Turkish travellers to the Greek islands.
He also expressed a desire to increase ferry and air links between the two countries, adding that the two sides of the Aegean lend themselves to cooperation and the development of the cruise sector, as well as for joint tourist packages, in response to the modern trend where travellers from distant countries wish to combine destinations.
Yalcim Lokmanhekim, General Manager of Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA), spoke of the prospects for cooperation in cruises and special forms of tourism in the Mediterranean, noting that tourism builds bridges of friendship for the two countries.
Greek health ministry Secretary General Marios Themistokleous spoke about Greece’s response to the pandemic, its vaccination programme as an EU country and the emphasis placed on tourist destinations, predicting that the next year will see greater freedom of movement and significant prospects for developing medical tourism.
The head of the hoteliers’ chamber of Greece, Alexandros Vasilikos, said that tourism was holding its own because it served values and stressed that cooperation was a tool that must be used. He underlined the need to invest in and create technology to promote and market tourism products.
The president of the Izmir chamber of commerce, Mahmut Ozgener, proposed an emphasis on the gastronomy of the two countries through the use of technology.
The event ended with the signing of a memorandum of cooperation in tourism issues between the two countries.