The Mayor of Athens, Mr. Giorgos Kaminis and the Vice President of AEGEAN, Mr. Eftychios Vassilakis presented, at a joint press conference, the hopeful figures regarding the positive dynamic of tourist flows in Athens over the last four years, along with the joint initiatives implemented by the Municipality of Athens and AEGEAN.
As the Mayor of Athens, Mr. Giorgos Kaminis, stated, the city of Athens recorded an all-time high number of arrivals in 2016, with 4,600,000 tourists, compared to4,200,000 tourist arrivals in 2015, marking an increase of 8%. However, the 2017 figures are even more hopeful: according to Messrs. Kaminis and Vassilakis, a 14%increase in arrivals at the Athens International Airport “Eleftherios Venizelos” was recorded during the first quarter of 2017 while, according to the Vice President of AEGEAN, the increase for the company during the same period reached 19%.
“Tourism is the main pillar of our economy, both for Athens and the country as a whole. But, in order for it to work, we need synergies and partnerships”, said the Mayor of Athens, also stressing that “since 2012, the number of tourists in Athens has increased by 2 million.” Mr. Kaminis noted: “Athens combines all the necessary conditions to become a unique standalone destination for the entire year. In these times of instability and uncertainty, Athens is a city of democracy, open to innovation and dialogue, hospitable and peaceful.”
The Vice President of AEGEAN, Mr. Eftychios Vassilakis, mentioned the symbolic—as he called it—value of the joint press conference, pointing out that synergies pay dividends. “Today, we are particularly proud to present an overview of our actions to highlight and promote Athens, which we are implementing alongside the Municipality of Athens and we are honored by the fact that the Municipality recognizes our common path and this common effort. It is also very important that we continue to promote the practice of collaboration between institutions from the wider public and the private sector. This is something, which I believe Greece desperately needs. The capital city’s potential is inexhaustible, the tourism product is constantly upgraded and the significant increase in passenger traffic via Athens demonstrates the importance of its position on the international tourism map,” said Mr. Vassilakis.
“Tourism flows are on an upward trajectory. The news is particularly encouraging,” said the Mayor of Athens as he announced the major public-private sector initiative Athens Tourism Partnership, which develops the collaboration between the Municipality of Athens, AEGEAN and Athens International Airport, made possible through a grant by the Hellenic Initiative and with the support of the Athens Partnership.
Special mention was made to the importance of the Contemporary Art Exhibition documenta 14, which has already—from its first ten days—attracted tens of thousands of visitors. It is noted that AEGEAN has significantly contributed to putting Athens on the international culture map, by connecting Athens to Kassel and by being the first airline to become the official air carrier of documenta 14. With these new flights, AEGEAN is expected to transport a total of more than 8,500 visitors to the capital, throughout the duration of the exhibition.
Furthermore, specific mention was made to the role played by the Authentic Marathon of Athens, as well as the Half marathon. Also, particularly promising is the emergence of Athens as the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2018. Mr. Kaminis mentioned the promotion campaign, This is Athens, the first practical action implemented by the Athens Tourism Partnership, a modern campaign to promote Athens, using single branding, supported with content by the City of Athens Cultural Organisation, a program exclusively supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. “In order to understand the importance of such a campaign for the city’s economy, suffice it to say that, according to data from the tourism market, each 40 new visitors correspond to one new job,” said the Mayor of Athens.
At the same time, Mr. Kaminis mentioned the intense mobility recorded in the field of conferences and corporate meetings, with increased interest for Athens, byADDMA (Athens Development and Destination Management Agency) and the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau. Based on international conference market statistical data, Athens gained a staggering 20 positions in 2014, while in 2015 it gained three more positions in international ranking. 57% of conferences held in 2015 took place in the capital, while it is estimated that each participant boosted the local economy by an average of more than 2,000 euros. According to ICCA estimates, in 2015, the local economy was boosted by 51 million euros from international and scientific conferences. “We expect the figures from 2016 to be equally encouraging,” stressed Mr. Kaminis.
The Athens Development and Destination Management Agency returns with the organization of the 5th TRAVEL TRADE ATHENS, in early October 2017, with the aim of strengthening collaborations between tourism enterprises and Greek tourism professionals with representatives of the international tourism market. It is noted that last year’s event closed with a record number of such meetings.
Lastly, the Mayor of Athens mentioned the infrastructure projects developed by the municipal authority, such as that of the Commercial Triangle—exclusively supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation—aiming to redesign the city’s historical center with aesthetically pleasing, but also functional, interventions.
Mr. Kaminis closed by saying that “we must not forget the vital part of the city’s promotion, as it is ‘constructed’ via Influencers campaigns, based on the development of networks with social media users.
The Vice President of AEGEAN, Mr. Eftychios Vassilakis then took the stand, focusing on the company’s development between 2013 and 2016, and stating that AEGEAN created 1,000 new jobs, purchased 16 new aircraft, expanded its network with the addition of 44 new destinations in 23 new countries, contributing to the overall increase in passenger traffic by 50%. “We are building the bridge that connects our country, and Athens specifically, with the entire world,” said the Vice President of AEGEAN, who also referred to the strategy of actively supporting the city’s tourism promotion, both within Greece, as well as abroad.
According to figures provided by AEGEAN as part of the press conference, a significant increase in passenger traffic via Athens was recorded in the period between 2013 and 2016; 128% increase in overall traffic to/from Athens, 97% increase in domestic/international connection traffic and 66% traffic/connection increase for domestic destinations. From 2016 until today, AEGEAN has connected Athens to 9 new countries and 21 new destinations, now connecting Athens to 71 destinations in a total of 41 countries.
Taking advantage of the unique characteristics of Athens, the partnership between the two institutions also effectively promotes the city to the international public, by focusing on the countless options it has to offer, but also on its role as a touristic reference point for every visitor. The experience of the city as a city break, as a cultural & sports destination, as an intermediate destination for short getaways and as a hub for supporting the rest of the country and connecting with other international capitals, are some of the city’s aspects promoted through the plan of actions that are being implemented.