Philoxenia hopes for a record number of visitors

This year’s Philoxenia tourism fair, scheduled for November 1-4 at the Helexpo grounds in Thessaloniki, will be hosting 701 Greek and 113 foreign exhibitors from 30 countries, Helexpo President Aristotelis Thomopoulos told a press briefing yesterday. The organizers estimate that the event will break last year’s record number of 25,000 visitors. The 23rd Philoxenia will also host a number of parallel events, most prominent of which will be the 2nd International Symposium on Gastronomy and Wine Tourism on the evening of the opening day, which will be addressed by a large number of academics and gastronomy experts. Subthemes will include marketing gastronomy and wine tourism, sustainability issues, managing gastronomy and wine tourism, healthy nutrition and nutritional hygiene, with emphasis on the Mediterranean diet and gastronomy. Also to be touched upon are tourism as a means of preserving national gastronomic heritage (food and wine events), wine tourism as a special form of tourism, and globalization and gastronomy. The event will include visits to the wineries of Halkidiki and Thessaloniki. Other events will include the Greek tourism awards to 10 destinations and 11 hotels. The award winners were selected following secret inspections by «mystery guests» who visited them as ordinary clients. Philoxenia will run in parallel with the Hotelia hotel equipment exhibition, to which 110 buyers from 31 countries have been invited. Visa problems Separately, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said in a press release it estimates that Greece would stand to earn about -1.6 billion annually and create 60,000 jobs if it succeeded in attracting the same number of Russian tourists as Turkey does. SETE said Turkey last year had 1,853,000 Russian visitors, while Greece only received 261,000. It stressed that despite the progress made in recent years, the problem of granting visas to Russian citizens remained an obstacle and required further support. SETE also noted that other Mediterranean member states in the European Union attracted much larger numbers of tourists from Russia and the former Soviet republics simply because they had speedier visa procedures. The same problem hampered growth in the number of Turkish visitors.