During an event in Athens, the Greek Meetings Alliance (GMA) initiative was launched by the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers & Destinations Events Specialists (HAPCO & DES), the This is Athens – Convention & Visitors Bureau (which operates under the Greek capital’s DMO, the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency-ADDMA), and the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau (TCB).
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the three bodies to seal the new synergy, which will aim to advocate for the industry’s importance with regard to employment and the national economy, as well as for Greece to host major international events and reach a higher ranking as a MICE destination.
The official launch of the Greek Meetings Alliance follows the collaboration of the three bodies since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some two years ago HAPCO & DES, This is Athens-ACVB and TCB created a partnership to address the unprecedented crisis in the conference and meetings industry. Taking into account the new challenges in the post-Covid era, the bodies began to develop actions with the common goal of supporting their members, but also the Greek tourism industry as a whole.
Among the main actions of the alliance will be to upgrade the image and quality of Greece’s tourism products through the experience, knowledge and tools of the three bodies and their members. The Greek Meetings Alliance will spread the word on the value of the meetings industry on a national level for development, employment and economy.
Speaking on behalf of the This is Athens – Convention & Visitors Bureau, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis highlighted the partnership’s importance for the support of the city’s conference tourism sector.
The alliance will also partner with academic institutions to include MICE in university education and inspire new talents; and will organize frequent educational activities such as seminars for members of the MICE community.
The Greek Meetings Alliance’s agenda will include strategies for joint promotion of the Greek meetings industry at both national and international exhibitions/events; joint initiatives for the promotion of Greece as a sustainable destination; and participation in funding programs.
Thessaloniki Convention Bureau (TCB) President Yiannis Aslanis pointed out that the collaboration of the three bodies through the Greek Meetings Alliance initiative captures in the best way the main features of the meetings industry in Greece: adaptability, professionalism, creativity, cooperation, harmonization with modern market trends and, above all, preparation for further development on a national level with the most modern terms.
“For us MICE professionals, the great value of this special tourism product’s contribution to the national economy is a given and we hope this becomes clear and accordingly secures the support it needs at a national level to be competitive internationally,” he said.
IMEX Group & ICCA applaud the initiative
During the event, IMEX Group President Ray Bloom highlighted the scale of the meetings industry and informed that globally it is a $1.5 trillion industry, adding that the amount is larger than the economies of individual companies such as Spain, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. “The meetings industry is undoubtfully a force of good and I believe that the Greek Meetings Alliance taking place is absolutely fantastic,” he said.
Likewise, International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) CEO Senthil Gopinath referred to the Greek Meetings Alliance as a “fantastic initiative” and stressed the importance of collaboration. “I would actually like to call this event the Greek Meetings ‘Future’ because in the last two years I’ve been constantly trying to advocate about forming collaborations and I would like to congratulate the three bodies for bringing their industry together,” he said.
“This is what our industry is all about: collaboration… We can talk about many strategies and many areas of focus… but if we don’t collaborate we are going to face another pandemic or another tsunami within our industry,” Gopinath stressed.