“Thessaloniki is an attractive destination for the Germans and through our portal they will see that holidays in our city are not limited to only three months in the summer,” the organization’s president, Voula Patoulidou, told GTP Headines on the sidelines of the show.
The Greek northern city’s tourism portal offers detailed content to fully inform visitors to Thessaloniki and includes useful information, routes and maps in Greek, English, Russian, Chinese and now in German.
“German residents have so much to see in our city… The new German version of the portal will give them all the information they need in their mother tongue, which surely is a positive element,” she added.
A host destination for international conferences
Due to being selected as the host destination of the 8th UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism to take place in October, Thessaloniki was in the spotlight on the first day of ITB.
Tourism ministers from all over the world were given an introduction of the city during the 8th UNWTO Silk Road Ministers’ Meeting held on the sidelines of the trade show.
“The fact that this event is being held in Europe for the first time, incredibly upgrades the presence of Thessaloniki as a conference destination,” Patoulidou said.
According to Patoulidou, winning the tender for the event was based on the very good cooperation between the Region of Central Macedonia, the European Interscience Silk Road Center of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau (TCB), the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization and the Tourism Ministry.
“Thessaloniki will find its place on the world map with this high-level event that sees the attendance of many ministers,” Patoulidou told GTP Headines, adding that the tourism organization will cooperate with the region and the university in order to prepare for a “targeted and successful conference”.
Patoulidou also mentioned the recent signing of a cooperation agreement with the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau (TCB), in an aim to promote Thessaloniki’s tourism offerings and conference tourism potential.
“Our first joint goal will be the success of the 8th UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism,” she said, adding that for the past two years, Thessaloniki has risen as a destination to host medical and sports conferences, as well as MICE events.
Patoulidou also informed that the organization aims to let the German market and the world know Thessaloniki’s potential as a worldwide sports tourism destination.
“Thessaloniki can surely be considered a sports tourism destination as, what most people do not know, the city has excellent specialists involved in rehabilitating athletes,” she said, reminding that the city’s International Marathon Alexander the Great will be held for the 13th year on April 1.
According to the marathon’s organizer MEAS Triton, over 21,000 people have registered to take part in the event. Registrations of foreign runners this year have reached 2,500.
Also on the sports tourism front of the Greek northern city, this June Thessaloniki will once again host the International Festival of Monuments (Yedi Kule conquest), a three-day sports/cultural festival that includes theatrical plays, music concerts and a 6 km run race that connects eight monuments of the Old Town. The event will take place June 8-10.
“This is also an event which we are aiming to promote for sports tourism… As you can see Thessaloniki is a very active city,” Patoulidou said.
The Thessaloniki Tourism Organization participated in this year’s ITB Berlin in a joint stand with the Thessaloniki Hotels Association.
During the show, the association received very positive messages from meetings with representatives with German tour operators. According to data released by the association, German overnight stays in 2017 reached 81,998, up by 24,19 percent compared to 2016, when 66,028 overnight stays were recorded.
Moreover, according to data from the German office of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), online searches conducted by Germans for hotels in Greece during December 2017-January 2018 increased by 51 percent compared to the same period last year. Also, the same data suggests that Germans extend their vacation period up to November.