Athens aspiring to an image true to its name

Athens is targeting the creation of a new tourist identity to highlight its unique character as a safe destination and consolidating its international «visibility,» said the city’s mayor, Nikitas Kaklamanis, yesterday at the opening of the annual European Cities Marketing conference. The event, held at the indoor Tae Kwon Do Stadium in Faliron, runs in parallel with the international City Break Expo 2007, which is strictly for professionals, and targets the promotion of business deals and strategic agreements. About 200 Greek and foreign tour operators are participating this year. Tourism Development Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia said the planned conversion of the stadium into the city’s metropolitan convention center is estimated to boost overnight stays at Athens hotels by about 280,000 annually and create additional revenues of some 85 million euros. The ministry and the city’s municipal authorities are working together to make Athens an independent top tourism destination, the minister said. The exhibition ends today while the conference is to run through Saturday. Separately, the Athens-Attica Hoteliers Association (EXA-A) said the tourism promotion of the region is facing serious delays. «No promotion program for Athens and Attica is being implemented; no public agency is coordinating the industry in the area, while Olympic Properties has yet to decide on the operator who will assume the management of the city’s convention center, even though five months have passed since the tender was held,» EXA-A said. According to data supplied by JBR Hellas-Howarth, Athens hotels showed a 3.1 percent rise in capacity utilization in April, to 62 percent. London had 76.3 percent, Amsterdam 74.8 percent and Paris 69 percent.

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