After two years of efforts, four of the country’s major tourism organizations got together last month to sign the founding charter of the Athens Convention, Exhibitions and Visitors Bureau (Athens CVB). The founding member organizations included the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourism Agencies, the Association of Greek Professional Conference Organizers, the Association of Greek Exhibition and Conference Organizers, and the Attica Hoteliers’ Association.
Aims of the new Athens CVB include the promotion of Greece abroad and the finding of ways and means to cover all and any needs of the conference and exhibition market, the incentives market and tourism to the Athens/Attica area in general. Members said their first step is to study the problems within the market and to come up with solutions that can be quickly enforced, and to begin activities that would ensure the development of both the conference and exhibition market.
After the signing of the charter, elections were held to form a governing body. Yiannis Evangelou of the travel agency association was elected the bureau’s president, Georgos Tsakiris of the hoteliers’ association was elected vice president, Tasos Koumanis of the exhibition association was elected general secretary, and Dimitris Mantzios of the conference association was elected treasurer.
The board reminded that the bureau was open to new members within the tourism sector: “Members who are interested in the promotion of tourism and the economic development of the Athens/Attica region.”
At the moment, Athens is the world’s only major tourism destination without a convention bureau (Thessaloniki is the country’s only city with a convention and visitors’ bureau) where potential venue seekers can get all information necessary to organize a convention here. A bureau also promotes the destination as an ideal convention venue. However, Athens is also one of the world’s few major capitals without a full-fledged convention center.
Earlier this year, four consortiums vied for the tender offered by state-owned Hellenic Tourism Properties to construct and operate for 50 years the planned conference center in Athens’s old airport at Hellenikon.The tender is for a stake of between 51 and 65 percent in the facility. The indoor facilities will cover an area of 12.5 acres.