Vicky Papadimitriou, Managing Director of SYMVOLI and General Secretary of the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau was hosted on Friday in an online interview held by Sakis Papadopoulos for omorfataxidia.gr, a portal that follows all development on the tourism sector and highlights important aspects of the local, national and international industry.
An insightful conversation regarding the latest challenges of the conference tourism and the MICE industry, online and hybrid events, the effect of covid-19 pandemic into the field and the ‘New Tomorrow’ ahead of us, was the outcome of this interview.
On Site VS Online Conferences
According to Ms. Papadimitriou 2020 is a non-existent year for the MICE sector. Nonetheless, she remains hopeful and positive that the sector will recover, and onsite conferences will gradually regain lost ground. That this would be an unpleasant parenthesis that will soon close. As for online conferences, Ms. Papadimitriou strongly believes that they are here to stay only partially, as a supportive addition to the onsite events. Hybrid conferences are most likely to prevail, once this situation comes to an end, probably after the massive production of a vaccine. Μs Papadimitriou underlines the role of the professionals, PCOs included, in supporting onsite events, and mentions that “The contact between the participants of a conference, face to face meetings, the journey, the discovery of a new destination, are irreplaceable factors of the onsite conferences”. After all, conferences online are not conference tourism, they are just conference activity and that affects a number of professionals and the overall destination.
Conference tourism and the city of Thessaloniki
According to Ms. Papadimitriou, MICE industry and conference tourism will be the last form of tourism to recover after the pandemic. But in this ‘New Tomorrow’, according to Ms. Papadimitriou, Thessaloniki has a significant advantage as a destination, which can be featured in these difficult times. She underlines that the competition between the conference destinations will be very intense and this is a chance for Thessaloniki to re-establish its position as a conference destination worldwide, and gain a head start in this global destination ‘marathon’. This can be succeeded with “the joint efforts of professionals in the field, reinforcement of the Thessaloniki Convention Bureau and a dynamic promotion (of the city)”.
Thessaloniki Convention Bureau
At the question of Mr. Papadopoulos regarding the operation of Thessaloniki Convention Bureau and its future, Ms. Papadimitriou, as a Secretary General, states that TCB cannot, should not and will not stop or limit its function, since it has emerged as an important sector of common interest for Thessaloniki. The collaboration of all conference professionals under one common goal, along with the support of local authorities, is a united front that is mostly needed at these unprecedented times.
Restrictions in the number of participants at the on-site conferences
Ms. Papadimitriou considers the production of a vaccine as a turning point for the future of the MICE sector. Even though most of the conferences scheduled for 2020 are cancelled or postponed for 2021, this did not consist an obstacle for SYMVOLI and other professionals to plan and submit proposals for conferences which will take place in the years to come, in 2022, 2023, 2024 and on. This is a proof that on-site conferences are still a preference for academics, association, professionals, and that the time until the vaccine is found would only be a parenthesis to the dynamic reopening of the conference market when the circumstances will be appropriate.
For now, the restriction of 50 participants on site per event set by the government under the new measures against the spread of the virus, is totally understandable and respectable on epidemic and hygiene terms, however equivalent to zero conference activity. More specifically, Ms Papadimitriou emphasizes that “the industry must be part of the economic support mechanism as if it does not work at all”.
Watch the full interview below.
Visit omorfataxidia.gr for more news regarding travelling and tourism.