The Office of conferences and visitors of the municipality of Athens (Theis is Athens-CVB), the Association of Greek event professionals and conference organizers – HAPCO & DES and the Office of attraction of conferences and visitors of Thessaloniki (TCB), join forces to implement joint strategic actions that will support conference tourism and create more jobs in the tourism industry. At a special event held today at The Concert Hall, the three important bodies of the conference tourism of our country sealed, with the signing of a memorandum, the close cooperation that has been established since the very first period of the pandemic through the partnership “Greek Meetings Alliance” (GMA).

Addressing the attendees, the Μayor of Athens, Costas Bakoyannis, stressed the importance of this partnership to support tourism, but also the effort made through such initiatives, so that Athens remains high in the ranking of conferences both at European and international level (today it is 6th in Europe and 8th in the world).

“Through this dynamic cooperation we will be able to further enhance the visibility of Athens in the International Conference market and stimulate the city’s economy. For the municipality of Athens, tourism development is a strategic priority associated with Urban Development, the upgrading of the city’s infrastructure and the quality of life of the residents. We are proud that the conference and Visitors Office of the municipality of Athens, which operates under the” umbrella ” of eata, has recently emerged as the best in Europe in the International Tourism Awards, thus sealing the successful management and promotion of the destination by the municipality of Athens. I would like to thank the bodies with whom we are signing this memorandum today for their valuable cooperation in recent years, we believe deeply in the power of partnerships. Together, we have built strong foundations so that we can effectively respond to the challenges of the new era”, emphasised Mr. Bakoyannis.

Present at today’s event were, among others, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Sofia Zacharaki as well as the Deputy Regional Governor of Tourism of Central Macedonia, Alexandros Thanos, who addressed a short greeting.

“As the Ministry of tourism, we strongly support the excellent initiative of the three organizations to join forces by creating the Greek Meetings Alliance. This new alliance, which is currently being formed, sends a clear message: this year, in a year when Greek tourism exceeded expectations, we do not rest, but we continue even more dynamically. The goal is a more qualitative and balanced tourism, which develops all its manifestations, enriching our tourist product and brand. In this, the role of conference tourism is crucial, which of course has in front of it important challenges but also great opportunities that we are determined to take advantage of”, stressed in her speech, the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mrs. Zacharaki.

In a statement, the Deputy Regional Governor of Central Macedonia, Al. Thanos, said: “the region of Central Macedonia is planning and firmly supporting a series of actions to promote the destination in the International Conference market with the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau as a strategic partner. Our aim is to enhance the awareness of the destination and to highlight the infrastructure and possibilities offered by the combination of Thessaloniki with the surrounding area. The market of Thessaloniki is now in a phase of maturity with dynamic movements of extroversion, taking advantage of the experience of previous years and strengthening the cooperation of public and private bodies, which is the most appropriate way for maximum efficiency. Thessaloniki and the region of Central Macedonia have the necessary infrastructure, they have in front of them very large margins of development in the special conference market. In short, we have the product ready to support and further develop”.

Cooperation starting from the pandemic period

The cooperation of the three bodies has started at least two years, when in the midst of a pandemic, the Greek Meetings Alliance was created to address the unprecedented crisis in the conference industry. Taking into account the new challenges in the post-Covid era, the cooperating bodies developed actions with a common goal to support their members, but also the tourism industry as a whole.

The partnership undertook initiatives such as the first Panhellenic survey on conference tourism (July 2020) in which the impact of the pandemic on the Greek industry of conferences, exhibitions, corporate events and incentive trips was recorded, as well as the organization of two hybrid meetings (the Greek Meetings Industry-Open Web Forum

Series), in which the results of the research were presented and then the strategy for the future of conference tourism.

Sissy Lygnou, President of the Association of Greek event professionals and conference organizers HAPCO & DES, said: “the Greek Meetings Alliance sends a strong message about the power of cooperation, but also the ability of Greece to be a leading conference destination. Starting from a vision, born in the midst of a very difficult situation for the country and Greek Tourism, the three leading organizations that we represent and promote the conference and event industry in the country, we proceeded to a series of successful joint actions, in spite of the Times, which is formalized through a memorandum of cooperation. This partnership is a milestone in the history of HAPCO & DES, which always sets high goals in the defense and promotion of Greek professional and conference Tourism. Our association will contribute dynamically and passionately to this common course. I would like to thank the members of D.And the representatives of the three organizations for constructive and productive cooperation”.

Yannis Aslanis, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Thessaloniki Conference and visitor attraction office (TCB), for his part, stressed: “the cooperation of the three institutions, Greek Meetings Alliance, best captures the main characteristics of the meeting industry in Greece: adaptability, professionalism, creativity, cooperation, harmonization with modern market trends and mainly preparation for further development of our work at national level in the most modern terms. For us MICE professionals, the great value of the contribution of this special tourist product to the national economy is a given. We hope that this will be made clear and, accordingly, that it will secure at national level the support it needs to be competitive internationally. Our joint initiative for the partnership of destinations and professionals, which represents almost the entire Greek conference market, confirms the importance of planning and actions at national level”.

After the signing of the Memorandum, a discussion followed on the future of conference tourism, the power of the meetings and their economic impact. It was attended by two major international speakers, Ray Bloom, president of IMEX Group and Senthil Gopinath, CEO of ICCA. The discussion was coordinated by the CEO of Greek Travel Pages, Maria Theofanopoulou.

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