Greece faces an annual loss of approximately 4 billion euros due to the stagnation in its conference tourism sector. This setback highlights a critical absence of cohesive development strategies for conferences and exhibitions compared to similar-sized European nations, as revealed by research from industry professionals deeply invested in business events.

The president of the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers (HAPCO & DES), unveiled a study demonstrating that Greece’s conference tourism and events sector currently contributes over 2.5 billion euros to the national economy. With optimal conditions, this figure could potentially rise to 6.5 billion euros in the near future.

In terms of economic impact from conference tourism on national GDP and employment, Greece ranks 47th out of 50 countries, placing it at the bottom among its European peers of comparable size. For instance, in Sweden, conference tourism yields three times the economic benefit seen in Greece. HAPCO representatives highlight significant infrastructure deficiencies and the government’s failure to acknowledge the sector’s strategic importance.

To reverse this trend, HAPCO highlighted the necessity of a national strategy and targeted promotional efforts. Greece currently loses at least 1 billion euros annually due to inadequate infrastructure and availability for conferences and events.

According to HAPCO, Greece urgently requires a flexible and sustainable conference center capable of hosting large-scale international events with more than 6,000 attendees. They stress the need for infrastructure development tailored to social events and flexible utilization of historical venues. Such ambitious projects necessitate collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Furthermore, HAPCO advocates for targeted promotion of Greece as a premier conference destination (Meetings Industry) and calls for VAT refunds on events organized by international associations and companies. These initiatives aim to boost Greece’s competitiveness in conference tourism across Europe.