“Together with the European tourist offices we will drive Greek tourism to new records”, Vasilisis Kikilias

The semiannual conference of the association of European travel agents and tour operators (ECTAA) was organized by FedHATTA and HATTA from November 23 to 25 in Thessaloniki, and brought together tourism professionals from across Europe.

The key theme of the conference was sustainability in tourism, one of the most important issues affecting the sector in the immediate future, as well as to discuss the labor market challenges in the tourism industry.

In his address to the conference, the Minister of Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias, via teleconference, expressed his gratitude for the contribution of the European delegates to the successful return of Greek tourism in 2022, despite the multiple challenges, and expressed his support for the work of the tourist offices recognizing the sector’s contribution to the economy. “You are the professionals who deliver results throughout the year and in every crisis, and you are the ones who have the greatest responsibility for the promotion of tourism in Greece,” he said.

The minister referred to the wave of investment by international brands in Greek tourism, the ministry’s efforts to extend the tourism season and its willingness to contribute to facilitating the work of European tourist offices.

“For the team to win, one talent is not enough and here in Greece we all work together for tourism, the private and public sector, GNTO, tour operators, and ECTAA, with the result that tourism contributes 25% of Greek GDP,” Mr. Kikilias underlined.

A welcome was also addressed by the Deputy Minister of the Interior responsible for Macedonia-Thrace, Stavros Kalafatis, who welcomed the delegates and made extensive reference to the tourism prospects of Thessaloniki, with the main axis being the infrastructure projects that have been launched for the city, such as the construction of the metro, the reconstruction of TIF and the upgrading of the port of Thessaloniki.

The work of the day was opened by the president of ECTAA, Frank Oostdam, followed by a greeting from the president of FedHATTA, Lysandros Tsilidis. Mr. Tsilidis once again welcomed to our country the European representatives of organized tourism that make up the members of ECTAA and expressed the Federation’s intention that the European body’s events in Greece become an institution, in order to facilitate commercial partnerships for the benefit of tourism.

Mr. Tsilidis underlined that such events facilitate the 70,000 tourist agencies and tour operators-members of ECTAA of many different countries to communicate with each other and hold B2B meetings so that, in a new market environment with competitive products and services, tourist agencies maintain and further strengthen their role in directing the flow of international tourism.

On the sidelines of the conference, the president of HATTA and president of the Tourism Committee of ECTAA, Nikolas Kelaiditis, held constructive discussions with the European delegates on the perspectives of the European and Greek destination.

The conference discussed strategic issues of travel agencies to introduce sustainability in the choice of travel services for their customers, the operation of the emissions measurement model during the trip, Klimalink, implemented by the associations of travel agents in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the development skills training systems for the labor market and employment trends in tourism as well as ECTAA’s initiatives for the development of sustainability (Glasgow Declaration etc.) and its next steps in this direction.

The director of GNTO in London, Eleni Skarveli, presented the Sustainable Greece initiative which aims to highlight Greek initiatives for sustainability in the British market, while at the same time they are also presented to British tour operators, who are encouraged to include them in the their travel packages.

The Deputy Minister of Tourism of Cyprus, Savvas Perdios, referred to the initiatives undertaken by the Cypriot government to promote sustainability in the Cypriot tourism product. He referred to private initiatives which have emerged with the aim of taking Cypriot tourism one step closer to slow tourism.

In addition, for the first time at an ECTAA conference, a representative of a trade union (Uni-Europa – European Service Employees Federation) participated, and a representative of the union outlined the main challenges of employment in tourism – working hours, pay and changes to the industry that have expanded the services employees are required to provide.

Dirk Inger of DRV then developed the employment platform Easyboarding, for new entrants to the labor market, workers who want to change careers, active workers in the industry as well as former workers who want to return to the industry.

Finally, the Region of Central Macedonia, the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization and the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau presented the region, promoting the idea of year-round tourism and all the alternative activities that make it possible.

The conference takes place within the framework of the Preferred Destination 2022 program of ECTAA which, in collaboration with GNTO, promotes Greece for one year as a recommended destination in all European tourist markets and brings together the most important representatives of European organized tourism.

The ECTAA conference is organized with the support of GNTO, the Region of Central Macedonia, Aegean Airlines, the Thessaloniki Tourism Organization and the Halkidiki Tourism Organization.

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