The untapped potential of MICE tourism in Greece

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The untapped potential of MICE tourism in GreeceHAPCO's Board of Directors: (From left) Panagiotis Podimatas, Sissy Lignou, Zenia Kerasidou, Georgia Tsatsou, Eirini Toli,Kostas Karageorgakis,Antonia Alexandrou and Dimitris Paliouras

MICE Tourism is the perfect example of how the great potential of the Greek hospitality sector can be fully realized as long as a coherent plan is implemented on a national level and its fate is not left “on autopilot”.

As experts and insiders pointed out during the 8th Panhellenic Conference of the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers (HAPCO) recently held in Athens, Greece can be elevated among the 10 best congress destinations in the world, as long as all stakeholders adopt a more MICE - friendly attitude.  

To that avail, the best practices adopted by developed tourist and conference destinations must be followed, while the Greek State must raise more support and fewer obstacles.

The participants highlighted that in recent years Greece has made significant progress in organizing conferences and adopting a more extroverted attitude, lifting Greece and Athens to the 25th place of the ICCA world ranking of conferences. 

In the European category, Greece ranks in the 15th place, Athens in 17th and Thessaloniki in 53rd place, rankings that could be significantly improved, if an official National Register of Conferences is established and eminent scientists and executives are mobilized as the destination’s "ambassadors".

HAPCO leadership revealed that its foreign competitors are often supported even by the physical presence of Ministers and Mayors in their pursuit of a conference for their country, and called for further enhancing the synergies between the Greek State, the Local Government and the private sector to this end.

The issue of hotel prices was also raised as it was underlined that, in the recent past, low prices in some cases have sometimes facilitated the attraction of conferences to Greece.

Regarding infrastructure, it was noted that Greece features ideal facilities for events of up to 5,000-6,000 people such as the Athens Concert Hall and the Thessaloniki and Metropolitan Expo. Yet, the Greek capital remains the only European city that hosted Olympic Games and still lacks a metropolitan conference center for larger MICE events.

Finally, the constraints and difficulties imposed on both national and European levels for approval of medical conferences, were pinpointed as a clear and present danger in slowing down the momentum of the local MICE sector, and it was highly recommended that a way of harmonizing procedures must be agreed upon by all interested bodies the soonest.

 

 

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