YES to Sea Tourism Forum successfully took place on Wednesday, the 29th of May 2019 at Domotel Kastri, north Athens, closing the Posidonia Sea Tourism 2019 International Maritime Tourism Exhibition, with the participation of more than 300 executives from the shipping and maritime tourism sectors.
Danae Bezantakou, concept-founder of YES Forum and CEO of Navigator Shipping Consultants, underlined that the goal of YES FORUM is to encourage young people in Greece to understand that there are many reasons to stay here and realise that shipping and tourism industries are the two main pillars of the Greek economy on which they can depend, improve themselves in that way and make Greece proud internationally. The YES Forum leader presented the "YES to Schools" programme to the participants, through which primary and secondary school students are being familiarised with the characteristics and history of shipping and tourism in order to include them consciously in their choices of what to study. This project has become a reality as this year's presentations took place in the career days of more than 10 schools, tutorials and events in the Attica municipalities where more than 1,000 students had the opportunity to learn the prospects of professional enhancement in these fields.
Representatives of the Ministry of Tourism, the General Secretariat for Youth, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping and the Association of Shipowners of Cruise Ships attended the conference. George Alexandratos, 2nd Vice President of The Hellenic Chamber of Shipping underlined the importance of synergies and invited young people to search among the 80 specialties of the Shipping Industry and maritime cluster in which they can be employed. Dr. Panagiota Dionysopoulou, General Director of Tourism Policy, in her address, underlined that the development of maritime tourism is a priority in the Strategic Pillars of National Tourism Policy as a powerful competitive advantage. The Special Scientist of the General Secretariat for Youth, Dora Giannaki, underlined that among the objectives of the new National Strategy for the new generation of our country, seven thematic objectives are included, among them "Affordable Education - Training & Apprenticeship", "Decent Work and the Development of Youth Entrepreneurship" and "the creation of Youth-friendly and Demographic Refurbishment of the Countryside". "Events such as the Yes to Sea Forum serve and are included in national planning, so they have our implicit support," she said.
“Having the clearest and cleanest seas of the Mediterranean we have the ability to create and exploit products and services around sea tourism. Typical examples are the development of ‘thematic tourism’, start-up operations, winter tourism and the creation of"ecologically managed marine biotopes".
Xenia Kourtoglou, co-founder and managing director of Focus Bari, presented the results of a survey conducted for YES Forum. The aim was to compare the views of young people and companies on labour supply and demand in maritime tourism.
According to the results, 54% of respondents surveyed do not work, 30% work in another sector, while 16% have been already working in the shipping industry. 45% of respondents expressed that they want to work in shipping and 7% attended the conference because they are interested in working in maritime tourism.
Companies that participated in the survey responded that 54% of Greek job seekers are not very competitive. As far as the degree of difficulty of finding a job in this industry, companies consider that it is quite high. Also, 92% believe that young people do not have the proper training and education and 80% do not have enough experience. Companies believe that the most crucial factor is experience in the particular workplace, as well as the personality characteristics of the candidates. Finally,77% of respondents both from companies and youth responded that sea tourism in their view means cruising.
The Forum's main speaker was the founder and chairman of Goldenport Group of Companies, Capt. Paris Dragnis, who pointed out that if we all want Greek shipping to retain its leading position worldwide, we should all of us support the new generation, with belief in their talent and skills.
Capt. Dragnis invited young Greeks to think seriously about the professions of the sea because, as he said, they are endowed with capabilities without knowing it. "This does not mean that everything will come easily to them or that there will be no deprivations and difficulties. However, shipping knows to reward both those who are working onboard and ashore. They are the most well-paid jobs in our country. We are also able to absorb many young people who are willing to work for shipping."
Coordinator of the discussion on Sea Tourism Panel was Minas Tsamopoulos, journalist with “Proto Thema”. Speakers on the panel were Maria Deligianni, Government and Public Affairs Representative of the Eastern Mediterranean - Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Capt. Vasilis Gazikas, Marine Operations Director of Celestyal Cruises, Dr. Thanos Pallis, Professor of Economics and Political Ports of the University of the Aegean and President - International Maritime Economics Association and Alexandros Seremedis, Lecturer of Metropolitan College.
Capt. Gazikas, advised young people to look for every new prospect and opportunity and not to stay stagnant! Moreover, shipping and sea tourism are paths that you must explore to succeed, either pursuing a career onboard or ashore! Ms Deligianni, pointed out that will, personality and knowledge are the keys to success. Dr. Pallis focused on the role of ports in the cruise industry and the prospects for professional rehabilitation.
Mr. Seremelis urged always working close to young people, sharing their anxiety and daily effort during their Bachelor or Master and the subsequent or parallel job search. He advised young people that they should not give up on their dreams until they make them come true.
This was one more Forum when the discussion with representatives of shipping companies, shipping providers as well as with representatives of public and private institutions that presented their postgraduate programmes in maritime studies yielded considerable interest.
Part of the YES to Sea Tourism Forum proceeds will be allocated for the purposes of Syn-Enopsis, Greek Shipowners’ Social Welfare Company. Executive director of Syn-Enosis Athanasios Bousios thanked the organisers for the initiative and stressed that the contribution of such actions is particularly important.
Danae Bezantakou, in the Forum's closing, urged young people to hold a positive attitude and not to be overwhelmed, to recognise the efforts made by many companies, executives and organisations of shipping and sea tourism Industries, to be committed to their goal and appreciate those who devote their time to this cause.
Concluding this very successful Forum, Ms Bezantakou invited everyone who contributed and supported YES to Sea Tourism Forum to continue the dialogue at the YES to Shipping Forum 2020, on 5th of June next year during Posidonia 2020.