The 8th UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism, to be held in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on October 9-12, is a “landmark event for Central Macedonia” said Central Macedonia Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas during a press conference on the event on Thursday.
Tzitzikostas underlined the importance of the biggest biennial event of the UNWTO Silk Road program — a collaborative initiative designed to enhance sustainable tourism development along the historic Silk Road route — for the Region of Central Macedonia, adding that “we believe in the dynamics of partnerships in all sectors and especially in the competitive sector of tourism”.
Attended by over 25 Silk Road countries, the 8th UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism will for the first time be held outside Asia and is an important opportunity for ministers, high level officials and experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities for successfully developing tourism along the maritime and continental Silk Road.
“We have achieved a major goal through cooperation with the tourism ministry and all relevant agencies, bringing to Thessaloniki a top World Tourism Organization event, which takes place for the first time outside Asia and for the first time in Europe, and in Greece,” said Tzitzikostas, adding that “besides, Northern Greece, Central Macedonia and Thessaloniki have a key role geographically and historically on the Silk Road”.
Tzitzikostas went on to underline the importance of tourism for the region and the actions taken by local government to strengthen the sector.
Indicatively, Tzitzikostas referred to the increase of road arrivals by 1 million, to 6.5 million; the 30 percent rise in tourist flows outside the summer months;
Thessaloniki’s Macedonia airport recorded the largest increase in the number of arrivals compared to all regional airports at 33 percent; the number of visitors to museums and archaeological sites grew by 300 percent; and tourism revenue in the first half of 2017 grew by 9.7 percent.
On his part the Central Macedonia’s vice governor for tourism and culture, Alexandros Thanos, said that the UNWTO meeting is a “great opportunity” for all involved to prepare for the region to join the Silk Road.
“This event is the best vehicle for our tourism to open towards the East, it is the best way for us to enter one of the most important cultural routes in the world, that of the Silk Road,” Thanos said.
“The UNWTO Silk Road Programme is a collaborative initiative designed to enhance sustainable tourism development along the historic Silk Road route. It aims to maximize the benefits of tourism development for local Silk Road communities, while stimulating investment and promoting the conservation of the route’s natural and cultural heritage. Additionally, it is working to foster greater co- operation between Silk Road countries and regions, with the established aim of creating a seamless and memorable Silk Road travel experience.” – UNWTO