Yiannis Paraschis - CEO, Athens International Airport SA


We do not have the luxury to focus only on today andnow

Big strides towards a post-COVID-19 new  normalityare necessary to ensure that the recovery to pre-pandemic COVID-19 levels will be designed strategically to face the emerging challenges, such as the climate crisis, the digital transformation, the growing health and safety consciousness of travelers, along with the changing geopolitics at the regional and global level. Towards this new normality, it is crucial for the Greek travel industry to capitalise on the positive image of the country, built through a proactive and effective response to the pandemic. Shaping a national comprehensive programme to help the hardest hit sectors overcome the consequences of the crisis and emerge stronger and greener is much needed.

Strengthening “Green Tourism” through the promotion of projects that will lead to tourist facilities with zero energy footprint

In the years to come, climate change will increasingly drive European policies in air transport, tourism, hospitality and the travelers’ behaviour as well. Initiatives and self-regulation on environmental sustainability matters are becoming highly critical factors for the competitiveness and development of destinations and of the respective infrastructure and enterprises in the travel chain.

Athens International Airport has committed to implementing “ROUTE 2025”, thus achieving net zero carbon emissions byconsuming only clean, renewable electricity, that will be exclusively produced on our premises, and in addition, zeroing out our carbon emissions from fuel consumption. “ROUTE 2025” fully incorporates environmental sustainability into our future development, thus actively contributing to reducing the ecological footprint of Athens as a destination, as well as to the National Energy and Climate Plan.

The digital transformation of the travel industry on the basis of a strategic approach is key for the next day as it provides a wealth of possibilities in the direction of interconnecting information systems for data exchange in relation to the traveler preferences, with the aim to make travel experience as smooth and customized as possible. At this stage, there is a unique opportunity to redesign the role of the State in relation to the formation of infrastructure for data management and various digital capabilities to enhance Tourism. In this regard, the “digital green certificate” could, in addition to possible uses in healthcare, facilitate the safe free movement of citizens among EU Member States and beyond. In this context, airports, as well as all tourism-oriented enterprises will have to review and potentially reshape their operational processes, facilities layout and digital infrastructure.

Leverage EU funding mechanisms to enhance economic performance

Given the financial strain faced by the travel and tourism sectors, the effective use of public aid and EU funds such as the Recovery and Resilience Facility will be of extreme importance for investments in the coming years. Investments to upgrade the Public Healthcare System, as well as the digital communication infrastructure, especially in the tourist areas of our country, are crucial factors. Reinforcing labor rather than subsidizing unemployment, based on identified market needs, and guiding the productive transformation of the economy to create sustainable full-time jobs emerge as key pillars of the transition to a new era as well.

Still growth industries

Based on recent studies, in 2018, only 11% of the global population traveled by air, with up to 4% of people traveling abroad. Such data give us the comfort to believe that, despite the dire consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on aviation and on the wider tourism sector, we still remain growth industries. To enable growth, this crisis should act as an accelerator of structural change towards sustainability. We have the opportunity to play a leading role in the Green Transition of the country that seems to have already started with the aim to create a strong competitive advantage.

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