Morning in Herodion and evening at Zappeion thrill U.S. Travel Agents

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Morning in Herodion and evening at Zappeion thrill U.S. Travel Agents(L-R) Lysandros Tsilidis, Maria Logotheti, Elena Kountoura, Mary Pyatt, Amb. Geoffrey Pyatt, Zane Kerby, Jay Ellenby

ATHENS – The Sunday morning haze was appreciated for the shade it offered the hundreds of guests from The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) on the steps of the Herodes Attikos theater on April 15. They were enjoying the start of a day and night filled with music, food and friends that kicked off Athens Destination Expo 2018, the international conference of one of the world’s largest associations of travel professionals.

An initiative of Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and organized by the Federation of Hellenic Association of Travel Agents (FedHATA) whose president is Lysandros Tsilidis, the event, with meetings at the Hilton Athens, was in Greece for the first time since 1987. Named ASTA Destination Expo 2018, it serves to both spotlight and accelerate Greece’s recent tourism successes.

Kountoura’s enthusiastic greeting, “it is a great pleasure to have you here with us on this beautiful Spring day,” praised the diversity of Greece’s natural and man-made attractions – guests sighed at every mention of Greek food – and presented highlights of the tourism sector such as last year’s record breaking 30 million visitors, emphasizing the third year in a row of double-digit increases in American tourists, and double digit increases this year in early bookings and arrivals.

All around Athens from January through the Spring there was evidence of the success of the Ministry’s  “Greece – A 365-Day Destination” campaign inviting people to visit Greece in all seasons and to taste the countries delights beyond its famed “sun and sea,” which Kountoura also touted.

Increases in non-stop all year flights by airlines

She also noted the increases in non-stop all year flight by airlines such as Emirates, and the increased interest of international investors in tourism properties.

Actress Katerina Didaskalou, sprinkling bits of Greek poetry and philosophy with words of welcome, was the Emcee that morning, and at the dinner that followed at the Zappeion Hall. While the guests were enthused with the evenings musical offerings – many jumped onstage to danced – they were still buzzing about soprano Anastasia Zannis’ soulful and passionate offerings accompanied by the Greek Navy band that began with delightful renditions of the Greek and American national anthems.

It was clear that the guests who shouted “ki’alo – more” all day long will tell their clients they could not get enough of Greece and the Greeks.

As he glanced upwards towards the Parthenon, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt began his greetings by noting the theater is “a good venue for the opening of your meeting because Americans are good cultural tourists. We are taught from a young age that Greece is the birthplace of Democracy and the cradle of civilization, but I can attest from my travels that there are still dozens of still largely undiscovered spectacular heritage sites,” added to the better known places that offer “the incredible variety of once in a lifetime experiences…There truly is something for everyone.”

Pyatt was pleased to note that “Greece recently earned the state Departments best travel advisory level possible.”

Maria Logotheti, Chief of Staff of Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, supplemented the praise of its ancient treasure with praise for Athens as a “city of never–ending stories… a vibrant contemporary city filled with young artists and entrepreneurs and noted the city is becoming an important international conference center.

Selling Greece to US clients for years to come

ASTA VP Jay Ellenby declared that the week’s experiences “will empower you to sell Greece to your clients for years to come” but the most touching moment came when ASTA President Zane Kerby, excited about his first trip to Greece, shared the story his late mother Phylllis told him about the first time she climbed the Sacred Rock of the Acropolis decades ago, and how he looked forward to now following her footsteps with his children.

Tsilides told the guests “I like to say ‘everyone is a Greek’ and today I am reminded of George Lois’ glorious ad campaign ‘I’m going home…to Greece’ – “welcome home everybody!”

Diane Panagiotopoulos, who was president of ASTA’s Greek chapter and owner of Athens travel agency La Greca, emphasized the importance of tourism from the United States and the value of the fine pre and post-convention tours – including cruises and bus excursions – organized by FedHatta.

Joanne Hunt, owner of Pompton Plains Travel in New Jersey, summed up the day: “Everything has been perfectly organized, but with genuine warmth.”

Read more here.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: thenationalherald.com

Source:thenationalherald.com

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