Current Affairs

A Blend of Business, Growth, Innovation & Pleasure

16th July 2021

Now that we are seeing the return of mobility and in-person meetings, it's time to start exploring new opportunities for association conferences and exhibitions. In recent years, Athens has been one of the breakthrough destinations for association  meetings and a star performer delivering impressive events. With the help of the This is Athens-Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), we find out how the city has evolved to serve associations better.

Words Vicky Koffa

The capital of Greece is a favorite destination among tourists – and for good reason; but the main part of the city in combination with its numerous outskirts cover a wide and diverse area ready to meet all kinds of conference delegate needs, too. From a bustling center to mountains and beaches all within a short ride with the city’s eco-friendly public transport, i.e. metro network, electric buses, and trams, accessing all corners of Athens is not an issue.

Arriving in the city by air means taking one of the numerous weekly flights from all over the world and then a short ride to the center or elsewhere – always keeping up with the latest safety and health measures. 675 hotels of all ranges are spread in Athens and its greater region to accommodate conference attendees who visit the metropolis and are interested in doing business with years of ancient history and values in the backdrop. “Οur city is a historic world capital and knowledge hub where the ideals of Plato’s Symposium remain vitally alive. That urban tradition has made an impact: Athens is known for hosting spirited, creative, and productive international meetings and inspiring events,” says Vangelis Vlachos CEO, Athens Development & Destination Management Agency.

© This is Athens

In fact, the ‘rejuvenated’ Athens has utilized the thousands of years old knowledge to develop an entrepreneurial spirit, with numerous startups sprouting in the digital, agriculture, and health sectors, as well as growth in the film industry thanks to the arrival of more international productions. Innovation is what derives from the research units of the 11 universities and 21 research centers. Associations have frequently chosen the hospitable destination for their conferences since they can relate to one of the knowledge hubs there and benefit from valuable connections and synergies with experts of the Athenian knowledge economy.

 At the same time, associations can enjoy a variety of unique venues, like repurposed factories and historical museums. The city’s biggest convention center, the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre (MAICC), located in the center, offers 18 meeting spaces of 143,000 square meters, combined with expansive exhibition and foyer areas totaling 12,000 square meters. The Centre’s total capacity is 6,000 delegates depending on the configuration, with the largest meeting room accommodating close to 2,000. 

Further down south, near the sea, there is the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), boasting 8 indoor and outdoor facilities – including its highest point, the Lighthouse, with a 360-degree view – which can accommodate up to 2,000 delegates. Conferences held there include the returning 4th Microsoft Summit (the 3rd was also hosted in SNFCC in 2018) in May 2019 with 1,800 participants, and the 17th European Conference on Computational Biology in September 2018, welcoming 1,000 participants.

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) © This is Athens

The 21st International Meeting of the European Society of Gynecological Oncology, which took place in November 2019 and was attended by 3,000 delegates, and the 85th World Library and Information Congress from August 2019 with 4,500 attendees, are just some examples of the kind of events that are hosted there. The venue has already secured the 44th Scientific Assembly and Associated Events of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR 2022) on 16-24 July 2022 with 3,000-4,000 pax, and the 49th World Tunnel Congress 2023 (ITA-AITES) General Assembly & Congress of the International Tunnelling Association (ITA) on 12-18 May 2023, expected to gather 2,500 pax.

The modern infrastructure is combined with attractive and unique social events and experience opportunities around the city or by the Athenian Riviera, where delegates find more networking opportunities in a diverse and relaxed setting. “Athens is a modern city that embraces its forward-thinking heritage to address the challenges of our times. The City of Athens is investing in safe, accessible, and sustainable infrastructure and is committed to becoming a socially responsible destination for residents and visitors. Creating knowledge, sharing ideas, and living each experience to the fullest – this has always been the Athenian way. Follow in the footsteps of Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato by planning your next meeting of the minds in Athens,” concludes Vlachos.

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