Marine Tours Group of companies consists of Marine Tours SA, MTS Tourism Solutions SA and BCD Travel Greece. Our Group specializes in Travel Management Services for the Maritime Industry, Corporate &VIP, MICE, as well as Leisure travel and incoming tourism.
Especially, the incoming segment is being serviced by MTS Tourism Solutions SA which stands for an Online Hotel Aggregator, servicing more than 2000 travel agencies in 15 countries (in Europe, North Africa and Middle East). The 50% of MTS SA turnover in 2019, derived from Greek Hotel Room nights offered to foreign travel agencies (approximately 12M€).
Οur organization employs 145 staff with a combined gross turnover of 140M in 2019. In 2020, we managed to celebrate our 40th birthday, 20 only days before the national lockdown sent us through the worst thunderstorm our industry has ever faced! The majority of our staff has been furloughed for almost 11 consecutive months.
It is worth to be mentioned that at the moment, only the essential travel is active, especially with regards to the sectors of Energy, Resources and Marine (ERM), while all the other travel sectors (Corporate, Leisure, MICE) are from 95% to 99% down vs 2019.
There is great uncertainty of what the tourism market will look like after the lock downs are lifted and normal life starts to resume, under the blanket of the vaccination programs. In this respect, we do not expect any investment in our sector and a scaling down program has already begun in 2020.
Additionally, and as the support measures continue, they do not allow flexibility with the workforce. It is true that we experience diversification on how the government addresses sectors of the tourism industry. For example, Airlines pay only the net salary , get full social security costs subsidy and they are allowed to lay off personnel, while Hotels and travel Agencies, linked to air travel, are not. Is there going to be any special legislation that will address the industry as a whole?
The legislative framework and labor cost related subsidies for all the Tourism Industry as an ecosystem, is a Key on a five year horizon! Low and stable taxation, less than 20%, and access to cheap capital are essential keys too, for a period of at least 5 years.
At the moment, all the government measures that are of a protective nature, they now need to become expansion tools to support growth in tourism and especially, hospitality, aviation and ferries, which have heavy CapEx. Most multinational Hotel Groups and Airlines have access to a pool of cheap funding and strong local demand while Greece- which focuses primarily on foreign tourism- has no local fund structure, neither access to competitive bank funding, in contrast to other European countries.
How can we keep Greek investments in the hands of Greek Entrepreneurs while our local banks do not increase their NPL ratios?
We need to push for a unified travel policy with the EU, the US and China, through which travelers will be allowed to travel with minimal hassle and no quarantine obligations. This is a “must” if we are to return to normality any time soon.
It takes time to formulate such policies and framework agreements; therefore time is of the essence. Infrastructure projects like Airports, Marinas, sewerage systems in the islands, access to fresh water, garbage disposal and processing, need to run fast, as the majority of them are being stuck within the public sector.
Without infrastructure, it is pointless for private investment to continue. Take Mykonos for example, that is growing in private investments while at the same time there is no fresh water, garbage processing and several power issues take place every summer. Can this investment continue without state assurances that infrastructure projects will initiate? Cyclades are like the Alps in the winter! Tremendous beauty and appetite for investment but with no infrastructure, it is pointless to even think a major tourism investment.
To my opinion, the areas that will grow more in tourism and investments are the island and coastal areas and especially the ones with air connection and road connection vs these ones with sea connection to the major city hubs.
Demand recovery will follow a V-Shaped curve, since we are at ground zero at the moment, but this is going to be dictated by the expansion rate of Covid- 19 and the measures taken to curb this expansion. Therefore, again, virus protective measures and travel industry recovery are interlinked! Bilateral agreements with important countries for our tourism product need to be made, regardless of what the EU is planning, as our economy is more tourism dependent than others.
In this respect, I totally believe that there needs to be a National Strategy to revive Tourism, with our Prime Minister and all the members of the cabinet, to be on top of this project. Tourism is everything in an economy and it supports all the sectors of it, but it also needs to be a national mindset, like the one we tried to build regarding Personal Accountability in the fight against Covid-19.
Are there any plans for a National Tourism Strategy with a 5-10 year horizon? If not, we urgently need one! My mantra is GINETAI* and because GINETAI, there is nothing that DEN GINETAI** if we put our minds and hearts to it!
*it’s possible, **is not possible
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