Τhe European travel agents’ and tour operators’ community recently met altogether in Athens for the 121st Semi-annual Meeting of ECTAA and sent the message to the world that traveling is safe if the well-known hygiene safety measures are respected.
ECTAA, the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association, regroups the national associations of travel agents and tour operators of 28 European countries and represents some 80,000 enterprises.
The 121st Semi-annual Meeting was the ECTAA’s first “in person” event since the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. “It was made possible due to the commitment of the Greek authorities and professionals of the tourism industry to offer safe travel,” ECTAA said.
The event took place during October 8-9 in the Greek capital city with the support of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), the City of Athens Development and Destination Management Agency and the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies’ (HATTA).
On the first day of the event, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis welcomed all ECTAA members to Athens and underlined the importance of the event for the city, as it was taking place during a particularly difficult time for the global tourism industry due to the impact of the pandemic.
“It is an opportunity to promote the capital as a safe, attractive destination,” the mayor said.
Minister: Travel needs a commonly accepted solution for testing
Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis attended ECTAA’s gala dinner later that evening and held talks with ECTAA’s members on the concerns surrounding the European travel and tourism industry due to the pandemic and discussed solutions to normalize the situation.
“Based on the circumstances and the problems created from the fact that each country took its own measures and set its own restrictions for travelers – with quarantine rules for example – I believe that we rose to the occasion and did the best we could,” Minister Theoharis said.
“What matters now is to find a commonly accepted solution for (Covid-19) tests for all European Union countries and ensure their availability, their reliability and which body will be responsible for them. This is an important parameter so that we can get as close as possible to the previous normality and look to the future with greater optimism,” he added.
ECTAA holds elections in Athens
The 121st Semi-annual Meeting of ECTAA also saw the re-election of Pawel Niewiadomski (Poland) as president for a second two-year term. Eva Blasco Garcia (Spain) was re-elected Vice-President and Marios Kammenos (HATTA, Greece) was re-elected Treasurer.
“I am delighted to see so many of my colleagues here in Athens. This shows that traveling is necessary to continue our business. We thank the Greek Minister of Tourism, Harry Theoharis, for his strong support to this vibrant industry and his backing of the industry call to replace quarantines with tests in order to promote safe travel,” ECTAA’s vice president said.
On his part, HATTA President Nikos Kelaiditis underlined the importance that Athens once again was hosting an international event, which highlights that the Greek capital is as an ideal travel destination, even during a pandemic period.
“ECTAA, by choosing to hold its semi-annual meeting in Athens and in person sent a strong message throughout Europe: that organising safe journeys and efficient business travels has always been a priority for travel agencies and when the necessary protection measures are taken, it is absolutely safe to travel,” he said.
During the meeting, ECTAA’s president, Niewiadomski, offered a commemorative plaque to the GNTO for promoting Greece as ECTAA’s “preferred destination” for the second half of 2020.