World Tourism Day 2020

Every year, the Tourism Committee thanks and honors the people who have contributed to Tourism.

For 2020, by unanimous decision, these people were the doctors, nurses, and health workers.

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In a simple ceremony this year, compare previous one, September 28th, at the City Hall the staff of the General Hospital of Rethymno, the Medical Association, as well as the employees of the Departments of Public Health and Commerce of Rethymno’s Regional Unit was honored since, with their invaluable help, we have managed to maintain Rethymno a safe destination that still offers a high level of hospitality services, even in times of unprecedented conditions and uncertainty, such as in recent months.

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            In addition to the honorary ceremony in the City Hall this year, the repeat visitors in 12 hotels of our city were awarded "loyal visitors friendship awards"  by the personal visit of the Vice Mayor of Tourism, Mrs. Pepi Birliraki, and her entourage of the Tourism Department of the Municipality of Rethymno. In the context of all security measures to prevent the Covid-19 virus, Mrs. Birliraki had the opportunity to talk extensively with the hoteliers and their customers and to be informed about the tourism issues of the season of 2020, while ensuring full compliance and respect for hygiene and protection measures.

WTD2020 Repeaters Kriri beach hotel

            The recurring visitors spoke with the warmest words about the friendly relations they have established all these years with the residents of Rethymno, about the beautiful moments they remember and were the driving force for their journey in these difficult conditions, about the excellent hospitality they enjoy in each of their visits, about the natural heritage of our area and about the numerous choices of activities and events all seasons of the year. They also stressed how satisfied and safe they feel since all the necessary health measures for the prevention of Covid-19 are strictly followed in all hotel units. When asked about any negative comments, they referred to the drivers' behavior in the parking lot, although, compared to the first years of their visits, they have noticed a significant improvement.

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            The hoteliers, in turn, talked about the sharp decline in arrivals and a large number of cancellations, given the conditions, but said they were completely satisfied with their decision to open their hotels, as, not only did they protect the jobs of several seasonal tourism employees, but they also offered relief to the local Market. It is noteworthy that several hotels are extending their opening season this year until the end of October, as the reservations of the first months of the season have been transferred to autumn.

            According to Mrs. Pepi Birliraki, “We are facing new data, new needs, and new challenges. Actions, strategies, and practices, which have been followed so far with excellent results, need to be adapted, evolved, or even replaced. It is therefore inevitable to head to a new Tourism profile, to new visitor-employee relationships, to new destinations, and to new ways of communicating and promoting our tourism product.

            The theme of this year's World Tourism Day, according to the United Nations, "Tourism and Rural Development", focuses on an alternative form of Tourism, which can make a decisive contribution to the difficult transition to the future. The connection of Primary and Tertiary Sector has always been a priority for the Municipality of Rethymno, since Tourism as a driving force of Rural Development, can give life to entire areas, become an important source of income, motivation, and new jobs and, most importantly, offer visitors strong experiences, such as the contact with the traditional way of life and the production of raw materials, the acquaintance with the local gastronomy but also the environmental awareness and the sustainable development of each destination. Above all, it is about the visitor's communication with the local population and its culture.

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            With domestic tourism as a priority at the moment, Agrotourism development is an area where we must focus by providing motivation and appropriate training, by adopting new technologies, and by properly preparing the ground for new investments.

            The direct contact with visitors, businessmen, and hotel employees is a prerequisite, not only for the collection of invaluable information, but also for the planning of our future strategy: how many hotel units will remain open this winter, what kind of infrastructure will be needed, what activities will be scheduled according to the required health measures, and many other questions, concern both institutions, entrepreneurs and employees in the Hospitality Sector.

            However, the most important is the message of our visitors and friends from all over Europe: in Rethymno, they feel safe. It is this message that they will give when they return back home, it is this message that is the most powerful advertisement for our area.

            Above all, we must remain calm, strong, creative, and united. Let us not forget that Tourism is always the one that nourishes and supports the global family, to which we all belong. Despite the challenges it faces, it will continue to make people wholehearted and happy, to expand our knowledge and spirit, to build healthy relationships, to unite countries and cultures, to offer strong life experiences, and to inspire peace, understanding, respect for diversity.”