The Tourism Ministry, in collaboration with The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune (IHT), is organizing a series of fora on tourism investments in Greece at major sectoral expositions where the National Tourism Organization (GNTO) is participating over next 12 months. These include London’s World Travel Market (November 15), New Delhi (December 5), New York (February 25), Berlin (March 9), Paris (March 16), Moscow (March 23), Beijing (April 21) and Cairo (September 5-7). As already announced by the IHT, Greek and foreign specialists will present the country’s new policy on tourism investments which is based on the new incentives law and GNTO assets. This year’s Philoxenia tourism exposition which just ended in Thessaloniki attracted 23,790 visitors, 48 percent more than in 2004, officials told a press briefing yesterday. The event hosted 696 exhibitors from 20 countries plus 15 official national participations – against 10 last year. Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that Greece has so far this year attracted 13 percent more visitors, with revenues up 3.9 percent. He announced that the GNTO is to receive an award as the best national tourism organization in Europe in London on November 13. «Our country is active and participating effectively where interests and strategies are formulated,» he said. Avramopoulos added, «Our country still needs a lot of work to put an end to the images of neglect and indifference that unfortunately still exist and remind of Third World landscapes.» Thessaloniki conference bureau TVCB officials said that a group of local businessmen, in collaboration with the city’s municipal authority, have managed to increase the number of conferences organized in the city from 39 in 2001 to 115 last year. Separately, Athens International Airport (AIA) said yesterday nine-month passenger traffic grew 6.5 percent year on year to 11.2 million, boosted by a strong third quarter. AIA said traffic on international routes was stronger than on domestic flights, up 9 percent and 2.3 percent respectively.