Key Tourism Figures 2018: Yannis Boutaris, Mayor of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki’s next step in Tourism involves the dynamic emerging markets
Thessaloniki has invested in extroversion, systematically pursuing a policy of reaching out, networking and building relations with other cities of the world; a policy that finds references to many different tourist markets.
The multicultural heritage of our city is the starting point of our comprehensive strategy regarding overseas markets. Because of the particular cultural and historical references to Thessaloniki, we started from Israel, Turkey and Russia. Moreover, taking into consideration our area, we proceeded to neighboring markets in south-eastern Europe.
Furthermore, with “Cities Diplomacy” we focus on various aspects of the tourists’ behaviour and experience. Businessmen, hoteliers and representatives of educational institutions, of the medical world and many tourist agencies participate in our events in various cities of the world during which we promote Thessaloniki presenting different aspects of the city. “Cities Diplomacy” therefore becomes a platform for the synergy of people who have the common purpose to promote the city as a tourism, congress, exhibition, gastronomic, educational and medical destination.
In this context, we regularly hold road-shows in the so-called “mature” western markets; so now Germans and Americans have been in the top five in the list of foreign tourists for the past five years.
During the past few years 25 new “boutique” hotels have been founded in Thessaloniki; new airlines have settled at the Thessaloniki airport, introducing new connections to cities all over the world; and innovative services have sprung up around the city, offering thematic guided tours and insight to hidden aspects of everyday life.
The international media has taken up the story, reflecting this effort, with Thessaloniki being depicted as a top destination for many reasons, including its gastronomy, its history, its youthful character, the creative and artistic aspects of the city, its vibrant everyday life and its relaxed and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
As a result of these efforts, foreign visitors of Thessaloniki almost tripled within six years. This tourism boom has brought benefits and new jobs to many areas of economic activity, directly or indirectly involved with tourism: during the past few years 25 new “boutique” hotels have been founded in Thessaloniki; new airlines have settled at the Thessaloniki airport, introducing new connections to cities all over the world; and innovative services have sprung up around the city, offering thematic guided tours and insight to hidden aspects of everyday life.
Our next step had to do with the dynamic emerging markets such as China, India, the Arabian Peninsula, Canada and the United States.
In 2019 we plan to reach out to Stockholm, Beirut and Busan, Korea. Our focus now is on thematic presentations of various interesting aspects of Thessaloniki, as is our latest initiative, “Study in Thessaloniki”, which promotes our city as an educational hub and an educational destination. In this context we will participate in the educational fair at Istanbul, while we also plan to participate in the Polish tourism fair “Grecka Panorama”.