Tourists Pouring into Greece, But Conventioneers Aren’t


Counting on sun, sand, islands, history and other attractions to bring in tourists, Greece is missing out on big bucks from conventions because Athens doesn’t have large enough – or enough – major facilities to host top world meetings.

That was the assessment from the Association of Professional Greek Conference Organizers which the newspaper Kathimerini said has sent proposals to the Tourism Ministry outlining the obstacles to getting major conventions such as auto shows, scientific and medical meetings, IT events and even comic characters which are huge draws.

The Greek organizers asked the ministry – which does little marketing – to push for conference tourism in foreign markets even though Greece still can’t handle massive events such as other top destinations.

Smart Meetings Global Top 15 convention destinations are Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Istanbul (with seven purpose-built convention centers, three exhibition centers and 94 five-star and deluxe hotels); Paris, Madrid, London, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Vancouver, and Vienna.

According to the association, most conference participants have a high income level and could showcase Greece when they return homes. They also spend between 50-70 percent more than vacationers.

The group said bringing in big conventions could also create jobs and more demand for related services such as hotels, restaurants, excursions and other attractions in the country and that major events also want permission to have archaeological sites being made available for the opening and closing ceremonies of major international conferences.

Greece can currently host conferences at hotels with the required facilities as well as venues such as the Athens Concert Hall or Metropolitan Expo right next to the capital’s international airport, while the biggest theaters can host a maximum of 2,100 people.