Greece’s MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry has been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, with sector professionals forecasting a severe drop in arrivals and revenues for 2020 due to the mass cancellation of conferences and events.
According to a survey conducted by the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers (HAPCO), the City of Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) and the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau (TCB), the number of MICE visitors and delegates decreased by over 90 percent from the start of the year and until July, while revenues dropped by 75 percent.
Meanwhile, 43 of the companies surveyed said they saw their revenues drop by 67 million euros.
The survey was conducted between July 6-17, with the participation of 49 Professional Congress Organizers (PCOs) and Destination Management Companies (DMCs), and 73 conference venues.
According to the survey, up to July 2020, 76 sector companies had lost at least 1,745 events scheduled for 2020, with the majority – 85 percent – expected to take place in Athens.
Half of the postponed events have been transferred for the last four months of the year, and the other half mainly for 2021.
Meanwhile, the impact of the pandemic is also evident on employment, as 62 percent of the companies surveyed said they were considering to reduce their staff.
Digital events are here to stay
Asked about the market’s gradual restart, over 50 percent of participants said that conferences with physical presence would start in the spring or summer 2021.
However, almost 60 percent of DMCs and PCOs forecast that the number of events will significantly drop in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, while 62 percent said that digital events would continue after the crisis.
The vast majority of DMCs and PCOs believe that trends in the MICE industry are shifting, and therefore are preparing for their digital transformation. Strategy change, staff training, crisis management and the attraction of new events are some of the challenges they face.
More than half – 67 percent – are already organizing online hybrid events; 52 percent have acquired adequate knowledge of digital programs, while approximately 83 percent have entered into partnerships with other companies in order to be able to hold digital events.
Commenting on government support, over 80 percent of participants said it should focus on tax relief measures and incentives for maintaining employment.
The survey was presented on Thursday during the online event “The Greek Meetings Industry. Open WebForum Series 1”.