By Nikos Krinis
Aiming to move toward closer ties with Europe, the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) on Tuesday held an event in Athens and informed Greek travel professionals on the benefits and opportunities of joining food and drink with travel and hospitality.
Based in the United States, the WFTA is the world’s leading authority on food tourism and currently counts thousands of registered members from all over the world.
WFTA’s goal is to unite the food & beverage and travel & hospitality industries in order to create connections and more opportunities for food tourism – ultimately leading to economic growth and increased traveler satisfaction.
WFTA representatives in Greece, Maria Athanasopoulou, owner of Respond on Demand and Chrysa Krassa of Top Tourism, presented the association to an audience of Greek travel agents, hoteliers and food bloggers at the ETOILE by Les Chefs culinary and hotel studies school in Athens.
“The World Food Travel Association is an organization that can help those involved in gastronomy to gain insight and become members of a global network of professionals and businesses dealing with the same sector,” Athanasopoulou said during the presentation.
According to WFTA Executive Director Eric Wolf, food and beverage experiences are some of the most important and memorable influences that a business and destination can have on inbound visitors.
“No matter if people are coming for holiday, for work, a conference, or to visit friends and family, you should look at every inbound visitor as a potential ambassador for your business or destination,” Wolf advises tourism professionals.
‘Word of mouth’ marketing
“When you count all the visitors to your business or destination each year, this can amount to thousands of ambassadors who experience what you have to offer, each and every year. That’s a lot of ‘word of mouth’ marketing you cannot afford to ignore,” he said, adding that 91 percent of travelers participate in a unique or memorable food or drink experience other than dining out, according to WFTA’s 2016 Food Travel Monitor Research.
During the presentation in Athens, attendees were introduced to the benefits of joining the association, which include access to research and consulting tools to help destination marketers and business owners to make sound decisions on the promotion of food tourism.
On the sidelines of the event, WFTA’s representatives Athanasopoulou and Krassa told the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) that their goal is to promote to Greece every good idea they meet abroad and believe could help boost Greek tourism in its various forms. Athanasopoulou and Krassa serve on the WFTA’s Board of Advisors.
“We thought it would be very useful to present the WFTA to anyone that is interested in food tourism,” Athanasopoulou said, adding that a similar presentation has also taken place in Thessaloniki.
“In recent years, Greek Gastronomy has become more and more demanding, so we have to find a variety of ways to develop it, and introducing the WFTA to the Greek market is in that direction,” she said.
For more information on the World Food Travel Association (WFTA), press here.