This year’s domestic fair, Panorama 2000, held last month at the Peace & Friendship Stadium, proved to be the biggest, the best and the most successful to date. “It was not only the size and the well-designed stands that made this year’s fair so impressive,” said one seasoned exhibitor, “but also the caliber of visitors, both from the professional side and the consumer side.”
According to Kappa Exhibitions, the fair’s organizer, the number of visitors to Panorama 2000 was much higher that seen at any of the other four annual fairs held.
Exhibitors and co-exhibitors totaled almost 400, while the number of stands reached a record 280. Both the style and management of the fair was up to international levels. Stands that represented regional authorities and prefectures were particularly well done.
Besides the representatives of regions throughout Greece and the tourism’s private sector, for the first time Panorama featured a handful of outside destinations, such as Tunisia and Cuba.
Local tourism authorities and private enterprise welcomed visitors to their imaginatively-presented, and often traditionally-decorated stands that were filled with tempting specialties – a sweet invitation to experience their hospitality. The spotlight this year, however, fell on the diverse Peloponissos region of southern Greece.
Alternative tourism appeared to be a major drawcard this year, with several companies presenting travel packages that combine activities such as hiking, horseriding and rafting. Younger vacationers, particularly students, representing as physically active, health- conscious generation of Greeks, expressed special interest. Regional authorities and tourism promotion boards have printed lively pamphlets informing of wide range of thematic travel options available along with the wildlife and natural environment, much of it unique, that can viewed and enjoyed in each are. At Nestos River, for example, in the northern prefecture of Xanthi, nature-lovers can see detailed perspectives of various sections of the waterway via video camera, without disturbing the environment.
Greek Tourism Organization (EOT) general secretary Evgenios Yiannakopoulos, who opened the fair officially, said he expected 2000 would prove a record year for Greek tourism after 1999 arrivals rose by 11 percent, despite the problems brought on by the Yugoslav war.
He emphasised that arrival figures should not be viewed as the single most important factor but rather efforts to increase the average expenditure of tourists abroad.
Mr. Yiannakopoulos said the next 10 years would be the “decade of Greek tourism” as major changes will occur in the sector while the Athens 2004 Olympics should also boost the country’s image.
Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis pleased everyone present at an official dinner co-organized by the panhellenic hoteliers’ federation for the fair when he said Greece’s tourism industry should no longer be considered a “prop” to be taken advantage of, but rather represents a strong arm of the country’s strategic economic policy. He expressed a farsightedness and ambitiousness in government policy on tourism not seen in decades, according to press reports that followed. Mr. Christodoulakis also proposed the creation of an “Olympic tourism package” as part of the planning process of the Athens 2004 Games.
In reference to the distribution on Third EU Community Support Fund monies, he said a unified business plan would be designed covering all sectors, under the title “Competition and development,” with one industry able to assist the other where needed.
Minister Christodoulakis also underlined the importance of the single currency to European citizens and the changes it will bring to currency exchange while stressing that Greece should present a positive image on the international geopolitical stage.