The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE) yesterday expressed in an open letter its concern for the future of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), a major economic annual September event dating back to the interwar period. In a move well-timed in view of the general election of March 7, northern Greece’s main employers’ organization called upon all political parties to make their positions known and submit proposals for TIF’s viability and future growth. The TIF has been facing declining interest in recent years, affected by the global trend away from general and toward sectoral exhibitions. The number of participating exhibitors last year fell to 1,058 from 1,255 in 2002 and 1,400 in 2001. Foreign state participations were down to 14 from 18 in 2002. Problems have been compounded by financial problems and administrative tugs-of-war, also involving TIF’s parent company, Helexpo. SVVE raised what it says are two issues of strategic importance on which it calls on parties to take a stance. The first is the prospect of falling revenues from one of Helexpo’s two main sources, the exhibition and conference center near the Athens Olympic Stadium, after the Olympic Games. The second is the doubts raised about the proposed relocation of TIF as a result of plans to privatize Helexpo. Relocation has been seen as a potential booster for both companies value and brand name. «After two failed attempts to privatize Helexpo, urgent decisions are required to make the promised evolution of the two companies into strong players of the Balkan exhibition market a reality,» said SVVE. Thessaloniki has applied to host World Expo 2008, competing with Italy’s Trieste and Spain’s Saragosa.