Greece improves offer in conference sector

The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) is launching dedicated congress offices in both Athens and London to drive more business to the country. The Athens office opened in late February, while in London the new service is to have three full-time staff and will be completely operational within a month. The congress office in Athens comes under the remit of a recently established department that has been set up to deal with new forms of tourism in the country, following a major reorganisation of the GNTO. It is likely a full-blown convention bureau, which will function as a public-private initiative, will be created by the end of this year. "These developments are a vital step forward and we are now geared up to cater for all kinds of conventions," said GNTO president Yannis Patellis. Appointed to the role last November, Patellis’ keen interest in developing the C&I sector is said to be behind Greece’s renewed impetus in this sphere. With three million UK visitors already travelling to Greece each year, the destination is eager to build on this influx in the meetings market. "We are already strong in incentives and smaller corporate meetings, now we need to develop our offer for larger association-type congresses," added Patellis. Investment of more than £700m in Athens means the city is able to accommodate larger groups, with facilities for a further 8,500 available at the city’s concert hall, the Megaron, and at the congress centre on the site of the old airport. The Olympic Games in 2004 is also expected to be a major draw for UK incentive groups.

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