The 25th Philoxenia International Tourism Exhibition saw a 28 percent increase in trade visitors as opposed to last year, said Helexpo.
The 25th Philoxenia International Tourism Exhibition, held together with the hotel furnishing exhibition Hotelia, saw trade visitors increase this year by some 28 percent compared to last year’s exhibition as 4,782 trade visitors were counted, the exhibition’s organizer Helexpo said.
Overall visitors to Philoxenia, held this year on 29 October-1 November, reached 15,000, while the Expopartenariat program -Helexpo’s service for business meetings with exhibitors- recorded some 1,400 pre-scheduled appointments.
According to the organizer, trade visitors came from Greece and 39 countries while 70 tour operators from 22 countries participated in the exhibition by invitation of Helexpo.
Philoxenia 2009 hosted 800 exhibitors, down from 820 last year, a series of parallel events, such as the 2nd European Conference on Tourism and many cultural events.
Helexpo counted a total participation of 18 countries in this year’s tourism exhibition, namely Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Bulgaria, Germany, Ghana, Denmark, Switzerland, India, Italy, the United Kingdom, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Syria, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Indonesia.
During the official inauguration ceremony, Helexpo’s president Aristotelis Thomopoulos underlined that this year’s Philoxenia and Hotelia exhibitions were more dynamic and extrovert than ever.
Mr. Thomopoulos called on to the new leadership of tourism to focus on the development of special forms of tourism such as exhibition tourism and conference tourism so as to increase Greece’s revenue and assist to the extension of the tourism season.
On her part, Deputy Minister for Culture and Tourism Angela Gerekou said that the new planned tourism strategy would aim to the gradual upgrade of Greece’s brand name to the global public.
“We want to determine and then develop a series of special and alternative forms of tourism, such as marine tourism, conference tourism and exhibition tourism by supporting these forms through promotion, infrastructure development and the training of employees,” she said.
Mrs. Gerekou also spoke in regards to the withdrawal of the zoning law for tourism that was approved last April by the previous government and which had caused negative reactions of environmentalists, hoteliers and civil engineers.
“We will soon announce our proposals for its replacement,” the deputy minister for culture and tourism said.
In general, throughout this year’s Philoxenia, the new tourism leadership made quite a few negative remarks in regards to its predecessor.
During her press conference, Mrs. Gerekou disclosed that the Greek National Tourism Organization currently owes 128 million euros for advertising and promotional campaigns for the 2006-2009 period.
According to Mrs. Gerekou, a new advertising campaign for Greek tourism would not begin until the debt is settled, something she estimates to happen by the end of the year.
Until then the previous campaign would continue despite the new tourism leadership’s general dissatisfaction with its concept.
“This year’s campaign did not even include the opening of the New Acropolis Museum,” Mrs. Gerekou underlined.
“However, we prefer to ‘lose’ some time in the communications field so that Greece can be trusted again,” she said.
Mrs. Gerekou said that a new campaign, which would focus on the local identities of Greek regions, would take effect as of next season. She underlined that the campaign’s main message would be planned without rush and have continuity and duration.
However, the deputy minister avoided to specify if advertising funds would ultimately be reduced due to the GNTO’s debt.
Also, citing information from the international market, Mrs. Gerekou mentioned a “small trend towards recovery” in 2010 for the tourism sector, which the Greek political leadership would seek to capitalize to the fullest extent.
“Greek tourism is currently in a crisis and for 2009 the reduction in arrivals is at eight percent and the drop in revenue is at 17-18 percent but it has showed signs of resistance,” she said.
Mrs. Gerekou underlined that the government’s main priority is to “ensure the targeted liquidity of the business tourism market in cooperation with banks.”
Meanwhile, the recent merge of the culture and tourism ministries to one single ministry-after the parliamentary elections in October- was questioned and discussed in tourism professional circles.
Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos asked for all to “give this effort a chance.”
“I am sure you are all wondering what tourism professionals have in common with an archaeologist…The Tourism Ministry has been upgraded and it has found a strong partner: a ministry that up until now it saw as an enemy, but now the foundations have been set to take steps forward,” Mr. Geroulanos said during his speech at the Morpheus Hotel Awards ceremony.
“Nobody can deny that the new Acropolis museum has brought tourists to Greece and nobody can deny that the films ‘Zorba’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ have offered more to Greek tourism that the occasional wretched ads of the GNTO,” he added.
“Besides, tourism and culture have something in common: they both directly create, manage and develop the strategy and the image of Greece domestically and abroad,” Mr. Geroulanos said.
The culture and tourism minister also gave high expectations to tourism professionals in regards to tourism businesses gaining support from the government.
Mr. Geroulanos said he aims to make the General Secretariat for Tourism and the Greek National Tourism Organization allies to tourism businesses and also encourage the cooperation of the culture and tourism ministry with other ministries (economy, labor, infrastructure and environment).
Council of Hotel Associations
The Hellenic Federation of Hotels and gbr consulting presented a study at this year’s council of hotel associations held during Philoxenia. The study showed that mainly Greek five-star hotels in Athens, Thessaloniki, Crete and Chalkidiki experienced a significant loss of income for the first nine months of 2009.
Joint Board Meeting Of Tourism Associations
The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA), the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers (HAPCO), the Greek Union of Air Travel Agencies (PETAGA) and the Macedonia-Thrace Travel Agencies Association held a joint board meeting during the Philoxenia exhibition that was open to members of all four associations.
Egnatia Tourism Program Presentation
Representatives of the prefectures that are alongside the completed Egnatia Odos motorway presented the Egnatia Tourism program that was signed last year in Xanthi. According to the representatives, the motorway is an axis-destination that allows visitors to cross Northern Greece and Epirus safely from east to west and experience unique sites, high-level hospitality facilities, culture, history and nature.