Three major stakeholders from the Greek MICE industry have joined forces to promote the destination for conferences and events. The alliance is designed to boost the economic impact of the meetings industry by connecting the regions of Greece, creating jobs and promoting investment.
The new Greek Meetings Alliance (GMA) will expand the long-standing informal collaboration between the largest organizations in the meetings and events sector: The City of Athens/This is Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Hellenic Association of Professional Conference Organizers & Destination Event Specialists (HAPCO & DES) and the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau (TCB).
A memorandum establishing the GMA was signed during a celebration at the Megaron Athens Concert Hall on October 25 this year. The signing was followed by a discussion about the future of conference tourism and its economic impact featuring two important industry leaders Ray Bloom, chairman of IMEX Group, and Senthil Gopinath, CEO of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).
On November 18, the GMA was formally presented in Thessaloniki during the Philoxenia Helexpo tourism exhibition. Speakers included Athens Development and Destination Management Agency CEO Epameinondas Mousios; President of HAPCO & DES Sissy Lignou; and the President of the Board of Directors of the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau Yiannis Aslanis.
Both presentations were also followed by a panel discussion by three GMA key figures. This is Athens - CVB International Relations Officer Efi Koudeli; HAPCO & DES General Secretary Antonia Alexandrou; and Thessaloniki Convention Bureau Managing Director Eleni Sotiriou. They presented GMA’s objectives and plan of action based on five pillars: GMA Recognition, Establishment, Education, Extroversion and Growth Sustainability.
Presentations in Thessaloniki and Athens were attended by several key figures including Athens Μayor Kostas Bakoyannis; Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki; GNTO President Angela Gerekou and GNTO Secretary-General Dimitris Fragakis; and Deputy Governor οf Tourism, Region of Central Macedonia Alexandros Thanos.
The alliance began taking shape during the pandemic and initially focused on building a portfolio of virtual events while the MICE industry faced an unprecedented crisis. In July 2020, the alliance completed the first survey recording the impact of the pandemic on Greek MICE industry partners. This was followed by two hybrid meetings to present the results of the survey and to discuss the strategy for the future of the meetings industry.
Athens enjoys a stellar reputation as an international destination for meetings and events, ranking sixth in Europe and eighth in the world according to the most recent survey by ICCA. Thessaloniki, the second tier city in the north, ranks 35 in Europe and 47 in the world according to the same survey.