‘Philoxenia’ hosts Greek tourism’s push toward new markets, quality

«Philoxenia,» the international tourism exhibition, opens for the 20th time in Thessaloniki tomorrow evening, hoping to redefine its role and contribute to the development of Greek tourism. Organized by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), the Ministry for Tourism Development and Helexpo, the exhibition has the opening of new markets for Greek tourism as its central aim: These are the emerging countries of the Far East and the Visegrad states (Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland). Along these lines, the International Herald Tribune is preparing a special feature on China with the organization of a Greek-Chinese forum by the two countries’ tourism ministries, the GNTO and Helexpo, including honoring the chairman of the China National Tourism Administration. The forum is titled «From Athens to Beijing: The Olympic Bridge» and will be held on Friday at the Ioannis Velidis Conference Center, opening with a speech by Greek Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos at 9.30 a.m. The GNTO is holding another touristic forum on the new EU member states, titled «Enlargement and Tourism: New Prospects.» Helexpo has already conducted a road show in the countries of Central and Southeastern Europe to promote «Philoxenia.» Avramopoulos stressed in a press conference the government’s commitment to tourism, as shown by the new development bill to be passed soon by Parliament. Aiming at a boosting the sector, the minister asked everyone involved in tourism to do their best: «If we do not succeed now, we will never succeed,» he said. Referring to the post-Olympic period, he said the positive climate available now for Greece should not be wasted due to bad coincidence or poor hospitality. The minister also announced the opening of GNTO offices in Nicosia, Istanbul, Belgrade and in all Greek prefecture capitals and popular destinations. «Philoxenia» lasts until Sunday and will have 671 exhibitors, four more than last year, from 25 countries. Also present will be the European Tourism Trade Fairs Association (ETTFA), in which Helexpo is a member along with Philoxenia. An important innovation will be the promotion of touristic enterprises through e-TV. As Helexpo President Aristotelis Thomopoulos explained, «We have created the ‘advertube,’ a multimedia tunnel on the bridge linking pavilions 13 and 15, where passing visitors will have the opportunity to watch advertising messages of great interest on 50 big screens.» At this year’s «Philoxenia,» Helexpo will honor Tom Nutley, chairman of Reed Travel Exhibitions, one of the biggest in the world, which is also organizing the prestigious World Travel Market in London next week, with Greece as the country of honor.