Thessaloniki Tourism Organization: City Booms as Cruise, Food, Film Destination
Cruise, gastronomy and filmmaking will be among Thessaloniki’s strongest destination features, according to local officials and tourism stakeholders speaking during the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization’s (TTO) annual report press conference on Thursday.
TTO President Voula Patoulidou mentioned that 2022 saw 61 cruise ships reaching Thessaloniki as a port of call, a 260 percent increase compared to 2021. This year, she said, some 70 scheduled arrivals are expected.
Furthermore, Thessaloniki is to welcome its first cruise ship of the year on Friday, a result of TTO’s 2022 strategic synergies, which also included participation in the Seatrade Cruise Global, one of the industry’s most coveted international conferences; cruise-related print and digital listings; press trips; and cruise ships reception.
During TTO’s press conference, Patoulidou mentioned Thessaloniki’s inclusion in UNESCO’s Creative Cities of Gastronomy network which was supported by the organization’s related actions in 2022.
These actions included TTO’s participation in the National Geographic Traveler Food Festival, which will be repeated in 2023; culinary fam and press trips with journalists, content creators and influencers from countries such as the UK, Israel, Spain and the US; and a participation in the Greek Luxury Tourism & Gastronomy Workshop in the Netherlands.
Central Macedonia Region Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas, who participated in the event via live link from Belgium, praised TTO’s contribution to promoting Thessaloniki and the wider area as a year-round destination. He added that the Region’s efforts and collaborations saw 90,000 overnight stays in 2022, which can be attributed to film professionals working on a number of international productions in the northern Greek city.
Tzitzikostas went on to note that state-of-the-art film studios are expected to begin construction in Thermi in 2023, aiming to transform Thessaloniki in one of the most important film hubs in southeastern Europe.
Series of tourism actions
Overall, the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization, which in 2022 was recognized as one of the country’s first Destination Management Organizations (DMO) winning four awards at Greece’s Tourism Awards 2022, managed to strengthen Thessaloniki’s image in important tourism markets like the UK, US, Israel, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, the Netherlands and Spain.
The organization participated in a total of 7 international tourism exhibitions, 3 virtual exhibitions and 9 B2B workshops & meetings and supported 18 conferences, including the semi-annual ECTAA conference, 17 sporting events and 15 festivals.
In addition, it made entries in 13 reputed international media and organized airings on 6 TV media in target markets as well as nationwide media.
Key highlights of the organization’s 2022 tourism promo actions included:
- promoting Thessaloniki in London through ads at 41 subway stops and 30 red buses during the National Geographic Traveler Food Festival and World Travel Market exhibition;
- organizing a press trip for Israel’s i24news and other local reputable media outlets;
- organizing a familiarization trip for 16 tourism professionals from Germany, supported by RTK and Aegean Airlines;
- hosting journalists from Italian magazines and participating in tourism exhibitions in Italy;
- Videos of Thessaloniki were shown on scheduled and charter flights of Transavia.
- supporting the filming of an episode of the popular Spanish TV show “Aqui la Tierra” that aired on Spanish TVE1; and
- boosting the city’s promotion in target markets such as China, Belgium and Romania.
A special mention was made to TTO’s digital content marketing strategy that saw the production of numerous Thessaloniki promo videos and a social media presence attracting more than one million users on Facebook and 500 thousand users on Instagram.
When asked about Thessaloniki’s tourism prospects in 2023 Patoulidou and her colleagues said that they expected road arrivals to pick up and that early bookings were looking strong from countries such as the UK, Serbia and Romania.
On that note, TTO’s President offered a Rubik’s cube with the organization’s logo to the event’s participants as a reminder of the complex nature of the future of tourism.
“Yet, we can always have positive and tangible results when there is a comprehensive strategy, bold initiatives are taken, and intuition is combined with research,” she said.