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Tourism and local officials absent from TCVB launch

Thessaloniki – The state tourism body and local authorities were conspicuous by their absence at the recent launch of the Thessaloniki<.> Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB)

Thessaloniki – The state tourism body and local authorities were conspicuous by their absence at the recent launch of the Thessaloniki<.> Convention & Visitors Bureau (TCVB), though they did send messages of support.

Those who attended the presentation at Thessaloniki`s Hyatt Regency were surprised to find that few of the official guests who were invited – such as the development minister, the Hellenic Tourism Organisation`s (EOT) general secretary and the city mayor – were not there. This is despite the fact that these individuals regularly encourage development of convention tourism.

The major international and scientific conferences which Greece aims to host require that top officials – in some cases even the president of the republic – be on hand to welcome delegates. The launch of the TCVB, an initiative of the Thessaloniki hoteliers union and a first for Greece, was an opportunity for the authorities to personally demonstrate their efforts to attract quality tourism.

Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos, in a videotaped message, described the undertaking as important, noting that Thessaloniki has enormous advantages in the field of convention organisation. He said it was significant that the country`s first such body has been created in the northern port city, saying that convention and visitors bureaus had proven extremely useful in other cities throughout the world. Venizelos stressed that his ministry would fully support the TCVB.

EOT chairman Yiannis Stefanidis expressed his belief that the TCVB will prove a success and said EOT will work closely with the bureau. EOT director Costas Katsiyiannis, who relayed EOT general secretary Evgenios Yiannakopoulos` congratulations, fully agreed. In his message, Yiannakopoulos pointed to the advantages Greece possesses which have made it a popular choice for conference organisers. He said the TCVB would further assist in meeting the needs of professional meetings.

In his message Thessaloniki prefect Costas Papadopoulos said that the creation of such an institution necessitated ongoing specialisation, as determined by the needs of the public.

Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, in his message, underlined that the municipality backs such activities, having provided five million drachmas towards the TCVB`s setup.

Thessaloniki hoteliers union president Vassilios Brovas noted that the non-profit organisation aims to promote internationally Thessaloniki`s conference-organising infrastructure and the wide range of services available.

Thessaloniki possesses all the preconditions as well as the ability to become a major regional base for conferences. The city`s hospitable character, favourable weather conditions, cultural attractions, as well as its location in southeastern Europe are just some of the pluses which, if properly promoted, could contribute to such an eventuality.

The president of Meetings World Associates and founder of the German CVB, Geoffrey Gray Forton, offered his advice to TCVB officials. Nikos Lavrentidis, founder of Greece`s convention tourism office in the UK and managing director of the MeetinGreece Network, stressed that the spotlight should be focused on Thessaloniki and the surrounding area in efforts to publicise the benefits of holding a convention there. Staff should be trained to meet international standards, he added.

The TCVB, which will operate under the auspices of the development ministry, will receive case-specific funding from EOT, the Central Macedonia regional authority, Thessaloniki prefecture and the municipality.

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