Athens is back on the map of the global tourism market and promoting itself as an international tourism destination during the 7th Travel Trade Athens, the signature annual B2B marketing event of the City of Athens.
More than 150 representatives of leading companies from the Greek and international tourism and MICE industry participated in the virtual event on 19 and 20 April 2021. The program was developed and managed by the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (ADDMA) in cooperation with the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA).
The two-day event promoted discussions between 81 businesses from Greece and 66 representatives from international markets. They completed more than 1,200 online meetings that will lead to agreements for future cooperation.
Athens targets the tourism markets in Europe, America, and Asia. Representatives from 22 countries attended, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, and France.
Local media attended a virtual press conference discussing Travel Trade Athens and the recovery of the tourism sector during the second day of the event. Participants included the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis; President of Aegean Airlines, Eftychios Vassilakis; CEO of the Athens International Airport, Yiannis Paraschis; Policy Director for the European Tour Operators Association, Tim Fairhurst; and the President of ADDMA, Melina Daskalaki.
In his remarks, Mayor Bakoyannis emphasized the importance of Travel Trade Athens as part of the strategy for the City of Athens leading to the recovery of the tourism sector. He referred to the continued development of the city’s infrastructure that has proceeded during the pandemic and noted that the municipality is developing a holistic view of Athens as a tourism destination:
“For the City of Athens, the daily life of the city is inextricably linked to tourism. No communication trick or campaign can create new or even stable tourism if the infrastructure and everyday life of the city do not satisfy the residents of Athens. So, we are not investing in tourism to be able to change the city, but the opposite. We have begun making the changes that Athens needed for decades to create the conditions that will attract tourism.”
Eftychios Vassilakis, President of Aegean Airlines, said:
“We continue to believe and invest in the potential and attractiveness of Athens. It is a unique place for anyone to visit that is also proving to be a great place to live and work. The years 2020 and 2021 are extremely difficult for all urban centers, as much as for Athens. That is why it is crucial to reaffirm our commitment to joint, coordinated actions that promote the city and the development of its product, thereby building our common future.”
Yiannis Paraschis, CEO of the Athens International Airport, noted:
“In this extremely difficult period, we continue to intensify our strategic cooperation for the coordinated and safe restart of aviation and tourism in our city. The strategic pillars in this collective effort are environmental sustainability, a ‘smart’ digital transformation, and innovation that will help Athens to compete and grow in the post-COVID era.”
Tim Fairhurst, Policy Director for the European Tour Operators Association, added:
“The travel and tourism sector is part of the risk management system, not a threat to it. A well-managed return to international mobility is within reach. The integrated strategic approach taken by Athens, and the importance Greece in general attaches to tourism, provide a good framework for a responsible re-start across the economy, and a sustainable recovery.”
Melina Daskalaki spoke on behalf of ADDMA:
“Athens is preparing to host large international conferences based on sustainable practices. The Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau has been working throughout the pandemic lockdowns to attract new conferences to Athens by investing in the organization of ‘green meetings’ designed to keep the environmental burden to a minimum. Athens has what it takes to be a model for ‘green experiences’ among European cities.”
Travel conditions did not permit participants of Travel Trade Athens to meet in person. Familiarization trips that were scheduled to take place during the event have been delayed until May and June. These trips allow visiting professionals to become better acquainted with major trends and points of interest, while introducing them to the infrastructure available for the organization of conferences and business meetings. Instead, participants were offered the opportunity to attend virtual familiarization trips that utilized online tours of the most important historical sites in Athens, giving a small taste of what Athens has to offer until conditions allow for meeting in-person.
Travel Trade Athens also included training workshops for Greek tourism professionals. The program was designed in collaboration with major international tourism organizations and welcomed participation by more than 100 executives from the Greek tourism industry.
The 8th Travel Trade Athens will be held in 2022.