BUSINESS

Greece trails its peers in tapping conference tourism

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

TAGS: Business, Tourism

Greece is missing out on revenues from business tourism as it lags behind its European peers in developing this market, according to the Association of Professional Greek Conference Organizers.

The association’s presidency has already submitted proposals to the Tourism Ministry for alleviating some of the many problems its members run into when trying to organize conference events. It also calls for a national plan to attract major events and a coordinated effort to promote Greek conference tourism in foreign markets.

According to the association, most conference participants have a high income level and could act as an excellent ambassadors for Greece abroad. They are also estimated to spend between 50 and 70 percent more than the average tourist while traveling. More conferences also means more jobs, the association adds, as such an event involves 40 professional fields directly and more than 70 indirectly. Furthermore, conferences generate increased demand for travel and tourism services (accommodation, travel, tours, excursions, meals etc).

Sustained investment in conferences, upgraded infrastructure and a fresh push to create a big metropolitan conference center that could accommodate more than 5,000 attendees and exhibitors would contribute significantly to raising Greece’s profile as a conference destination, the body argues, citing the success of such measures in Istanbul, Barcelona, Dublin and elsewhere.

Greece can currently host conferences at hotels with the required facilities as well as venues such as the Athens Concert Hall or Metropolitan Expo right next to the capital’s international airport, while the biggest theaters can host a maximum of 2,100 people.

The association would also like to see archaeological sites being made available for the opening and closing ceremonies of major international conferences in Greece. In addition it stressed the need for a record of events – domestic or international – held in the country and inspections of the value-added tax paid to ensure that the state is drawing the direct and indirect taxes it is entitled to, as well as insured labor.

The association’s presidency has already completed a series of meetings to present its concerns and ideas for boosting conference tourism to experts and officials.

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