Conference tourism, a global industry with an annual turnover of $7.4 billion, is turning to Greece for its yearly meeting at the end of this month in Rhodes. For the first time since its foundation in 1963, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) is holding its annual global conference from October 29 to November 1 at the Sofitel Capsis Hotel and Center «Marika Capsis 2000» on the Dodecanese island. The head of the Greek committee organizing the event, Irini Varda-Kapsi, and her deputy, Panayiotis Podimatas, announced yesterday a record participation in the conference, with as many as 800 delegates from 60 countries, breaking the record of the Copenhagen conference in 2002. Greece earned the right to stage the event beating off rivals bids from Turkey, Austria and Latvia. The ICCA specializes in organizing conferences of international bodies, but not in the corporate meetings sector. Kapsi referred to data from an ICCA survey which bring Greece from the 22nd position in international organizations’ conferences last year (with 94 such events staged) to 15th for 2007, with 114 conferences booked already. The financial significance that has for hotels and other units is great. That’s because an average conference of 600 people lasting four days at an accommodation unit which chooses to stay open during the winter can cover the operating expenses of the whole non-peak period. Furthermore, a conference delegate spends $527 per day in accommodation, food, cost of participation and so on, which is far higher than a regular tourist’s spending. Most international conferences are medical, followed by scientific, technology and industry conferences. Irini Varda-Kapsi expressed her confidence that with the operation of a major conference venue in Athens, Greece will raise its profile on the global conference tourism map.