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HAPCO: Great potential for Greece’s MICE sector highlighted at 8th Panhellenic Conference of Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers 2018

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

At the inaugural address, HAPCO’s President Irene Tolis underlined that “Greece can become the preferred destination for conference and MICE tourism”, highlighted the sector’s contribution to the national economy by presenting analytical data and pointed out that the Association’s principal aim is to promote Greece as a conference destination.All of this dynamic sector’s representatives agreed that the best practices adopted by developed tourist and conference destinations abroad must be followed, while the Greek State must raise more support and fewer obstacles.

The participants highlighted that in recent years the country 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.

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. 

Nevertheless, the Greek capital remains the only European city that hosted Olympic Games and still lacks a Metropolitan Conference Center for larger MICE events.

ICCA Regional Director Europe Elif Balci Fisunoglou, as the keynote foreign guest speaker, agreed that the government’s involvement can be sometimes crucial depending on the type of a conference a PCO is bidding for and added that, even without a Metropolitan Conference Center for larger MICE events, Greece can attract numerous conferences of significant size.  "Greece definitely possesses all the ingredients for the perfect recipe, they only need to be mixed correctly," she recommended.

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

The conference concluded with a very positive message and renewed commitment by all participants for a great collective effort to promote Greece’s exceptional conference tourism and MICE product.

Photos and live footage from the 8th Panhellenic Conference of Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers 2018 at: https://www.livemedia.gr/8hapco.

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