Haris Theocharis, Minister of Tourism, and GNTO President, Angela Gerekou, took part in a high-level working lunch, hosted by FedHATTA this past week, to discuss FedHATTA’s initiative EMTTAAS – East Mediterranean Travel & Tourist Agents Associations Synergies.

The primary goal of EMTTAAS is to build cooperation across the  tourism industries in the Eastern Mediterranean to develop new products and synergies. So far the associations of tourism professionals in Egypt, Cyprus and Israel have signed MoUs to be part of EMTTAAS and were represented at the meeting by:  Nader El Biblawi, President of Egypt’s ETAA, Hanny Sobol, representative of ITAA in Israel and Vasilis Stamataris, President of ACTA in Cyprus.

The focus of the meeting was to develop next steps for this important initiative. Lysandros Tsilidis, President of FedHATTA, announced that at the next Philoxenia 2020 there will be an EMTTAAS booth in the exhibition. Also, all EMTAASS members will jointly participate in the IMTM Exhibition in Israel in February 2020, and in the Taxidi Exhibition in Cyprus in April 2020, where representatives of these countries have already been invited.

The next steps outlined for EMTTAAS during the meeting are: a project to create shared holiday packages with options from two or more participating countries; branding this project appropriately; and the creation of a platform for the tourist promotion of all participating countries.

In parallel, EMTTAAS will organize joint roadshow and B2B meetings, to target international markets with a professional and substantive approach. FedHATTA’s participation will also include those regions of Greece interested in accessing international markets.

The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the the issue of visas, which present various bureaucratic and other problems in different countries, and a request was made to Minister Theocharis to facilitate travelers in the region to obtain visas.

Finally, with the participation of Aegean’s Head of Sales, Stefanos Sadopoulos, a substantial discussion of the need for efficient air transport between the participating countries took place.
Already, tourism traffic in the region is on the rise. For example, Israeli visitors to Greece and Cyprus are steadily increasing each year, following ITTA joining EMTAASS and the ITTA Conference held in Athens in 2016. According to data sent to FedHATTA by ITTA spokeswoman Hanna Sobol, Israeli visitors to Greece have risen from 909,574 in 2015 to 1,354,044 today.

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