CMW international reporter, Oliver Thomas, and international director, Mercedes Alonso, attended the 8th Travel Trade Athens event, 9-10 May, hosted by the City of Athens and This is Athens. The two-day event brought together suppliers, buyers and media to experience what Athens has to offer the international MICE community.
On the first day, buyers and supplies had a packed day of B2B meetings at the Hotel Grande Bretagne, where the international community was able to connect with the Athenian local market.
Vagelis Vlachos, CEO of Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (ADDMA), opened the meetings with positive comments about the re-opening of the travel market and the importance of supporting local suppliers as Greece emerges from the pandemic.
A press conference followed where Vlachos was joined by Kostas Bakoyannis, the Mayor of Athens, Eftichios Vassilakis, chairman of Aegean Airlines, and Ioanna Papadopoulos, director of communication and marketing at Athens International Airport.
The media were briefed in more detail about the trends of the Athens MICE industry, where Papadopoulos stated that inbounds flights had reached 92% of 2019 levels.
The Athens Mayor commented about the importance of local support in attracting international visitors to the Greek capital: “We need to try and understand and consider our city from a holistic view. When we invest in the quality of life for locals, we invest in Athens as a city for international visitors.”
Vlachos further emphasised the financial importance of MICE events to this ecosystem: “The footprint of a common delegate is four times greater than a leisure visitor.”
CMW’s team checked out many of the city’s numerous venues and incentive experiences, including the National Gallery of Athens and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC). Both locations provide unexpected modern experiences to delegates, in a city that is renowned for its ancient history and culture.
A tour was also provided around the LAMDA Development project, Ellinikon, a new suburb of Athens that will cover 2,000,000sqm and is expected to contribute to the country’s GDP by 2.4% until the development’s completion date.
Sustainable facilities that this new region of Athens will offer the international MICE industry will be of great interest for planners in future years.
On 10 May, suppliers, buyers and media were let loose on FAM trips to either tours of ‘Athens, A city of history, culture and Gastronomy’, ‘The Athenian Riviera’, or ‘Meetings and Incentives Stories.’
CMW was able to visit multiple venues within walking distance of each other in central Athens, such as the Athens Concert Hall and International Convention Centre (2,000sqm of exhibition space, three conference rooms, and 2,450 seats venue-wide), Panathenaic Stadium (60,000-seater historic open air venue that hosted the first modern day Olympics), and the Zappeion Megaron (4,000sqm flexible meetings space).
Keep an eye out in the next edition of CMW’s magazine to learn more about Athens’s new MICE offer.