A joint partnership between GNTO and the Leading U.S. Travel Agent Association
Athens, Greece, Sunday, April 15, 2018 – The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) today announces the success of the opening session for the Destination Expo in the awe-inspiring Ancient Odeon of Herodes Atticus. ASTA President & CEO Zane Kerby, joined by local partner and president of FedHATTA Lysandros Tsilidis and the Honorable Geoffrey R. Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic, greeted 300 travel advisors and more than 200 industry suppliers and tourism executives for the sold-out trade show in Athens, Greece April 14-17, 2018.
Elena Kountoura, Greek Minister of Tourism, who championed the 2018 Destination Expo, presented the honorary opening remarks, highlighting their recent tourism growth, increased hotel development and non-stop air connections from the U.S. through increased carrier relationships. The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) wowed the audience with a performance by famous Soprano Miss Anastasia Zanni, who sang renditions of the Greek and U.S. National Anthems along with the Hellenic Navy Band, which set the stage for many show-stopping experiences to come.
“Our mission is to immerse the U.S. travel agent community the local character, natural beauty, flavors and incredible history we have to offer,” said Elena Kountoura Minister of Tourism. “Aiming to establish Greece as a global 365-day destination, we extended the summer season and promoted tourism in the winter season. We introduced new thematic tourism products and new Greek destinations. The United States is an important market to us and through our targeted actions we experience double digit growth in the last three years. About one million Americans now visit Greece, and demand is growing from year to year. We look forward to welcoming many more American travelers as a result of this partnership with ASTA.”
“The Greece Destination Expo is more than a FAM. It provides deep understanding and impactful experiences that empower our agents to sell an international destination for decades to come. 98 percent of our attendees plan to use the supplier contacts they make for future bookings. The best way to establish trust with local supplier partners is through in-person, face to face meetings," said Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA. "For me, coming to Greece is very personal. My mother taught history and English courses to elementary school students, and she loved Greek mythology. She was able to visit the Parthenon after many years of showing pictures of it to her students. While she is no longer with us, I’m sure she’s looking down with great pride on this day and the moment I take her grandchildren up the hill to the Parthenon later this week.”
While Greece is an ASTA favorite, having hosted the event in 1967, 1987 and now 2018, our research study, How America Travels, shows that 38% of American travelers wish to “see natural sights” and another 34% of American travelers to “see historic sights” when they vacation, which this destination has the best of both worlds.
ASTA offers our sincere thanks for opening up your home to our community and for the gracious hospitality of all the partners in Greece who made this event possible. As FedHATTA Lysandros Tsilidis put it on stage today, “We believe that everyone is of Greek origin. We are just welcoming you home.”
For more information, visit www.astaade.org and follow the highlights on social media by following #ASTAADE.
ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally based members, it is the leading global advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the traveling public. ASTA’s history of travel industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information, visit ASTA.org.
ASTA’s sister association, The National Association of Career Travel Agents, represents a professional community of independent travel agents ready to assist the traveling public.