On the initiative of the Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia in Greece, Mr. Tigran Mikrtchyan as well as of the Consul a.h. of the Republic of Armenia in Thessaloniki Mr. Akis Dagazian and following the meeting they had with the President of TIF – Helexpo Mr. Tasos Tzikas as well as the Managing Director Mr. Kyriakos Pozrikidis on March 11th with the aim of a more active participation of Armenia in the exhibitions of TIF – Helexpo which is the largest exhibition organization in Greece, Armenia was officially announced the “Honored Country” at this year’s 37th Philoxenia at the press conference given by TIF – Helexpo on November 10th.
With 335 exhibitors from 18 countries, 115 hosted buyers from 35 countries, Philoxenia is the most important tourism exhibition in Greece. The national participation of Armenia is organized by the Tourism Committee of the Ministry of Economy of Armenia in cooperation with the Honorary Consulate of Armenia in Thessaloniki under the auspices of the Embassy of Armenia in Greece.
The press conference was attended by, among others, the president of TIF – Helexpo, Mr. Tasos Tzikas, the managing director of TIF – Helexpo, Mr. Kyriakos Pozrikidis, the mayor of Thessaloniki, Mr. Konstantinos Zervas, the deputy regional governor of Central Macedonia, Mrs. Voula Patoulidou, the deputy mayor of Heraklion, Mr. George Sisamakis who all pointed out that the friendly relations between Greece and Armenia should be extended to tourism exchanges as well.
In detail, the statement of the Consul a.h. of the Republic of Armenia in Thessaloniki, Mr. Akis Dagazian is the following:
“First of all, I would like to convey to you the warm greetings of the Minister of Economy of Armenia, Mr. Vahan Kerobyan, the Director of the Tourism Committee, Ms. Sisian Boghossian, and our Ambassador to Greece, Mr. Tigran Mkrtchyan.
As you all know, we – Greeks and Armenians – have common historical origins, but we also face similar geopolitical challenges to this day. Our relations are truly fraternal and our cooperation is at a very high level, but there is always a lot of room for improvement mainly in the field of trade, economy and of course tourism exchanges.
Armenia is not unknown in Thessaloniki. Emperor Galerius was the first to bring Armenia to Thessaloniki with the view of our country being impressively represented on the landmark of Thessaloniki, our well-known ‘Arch of Galerius” or “Kamara“!
At this year’s Philoxenia, Armenia is back to Thessaloniki in full force!
Today marks a historic day and a milestone for our bilateral relations as Armenia becomes for the first time an honored country at an exhibition event in Greece, an initiative that falls within the framework of the celebrations of 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Greece and Armenia. This development is the outcome of the long-term cooperation between the management of TIF – Helexpo and the Hellenic-Armenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 1994 as well as the recent establishment of the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Armenia in Thessaloniki in the context of the clear commitment of the Armenian government and our Ambassador Mr. Mkrtchyan for the further deepening of Greek-Armenian relations in all sectors!
Let me summarize as much as I can the range of our cooperation with the organizers: Since 2014 we have had a continuous presence at TIF. In 2018 we participated for the first time in Philoxenia (tourism fair), this year we added Artozyma (bakery and confectionery fair) while for 2023 we are planning to add at least Detrop Oenos (wines fair).
In the field of tourism, Armenia has demonstrated many successes in the last 10 years, achieving a doubling of incoming tourists from only 678,000 in 2010 to a record 1.9 million in 2019, while within the first 10 months of 2022 the country has already recorded 1.4 million tourists.
This year, with the assumption of the management of the Tourism Committee by Ms. Boghossian, the tourism identity of Armenia was been totally renewed with the new brand “Armenia The Hidden Track”, and the new communication strategy is based on four pillars as you will see at our Booth: Nature, Culture, Adventure & Gastronomy.
The figures indicate that the prospects are great and that Greece’s know-how in developing the tourism product is important for Armenia. Let me remind you that this year’s meeting of the Europe Committee of the World Tourism Organization chaired by the Greek Deputy Minister of Tourism Mrs. Sofia Zaharaki took place last June in the capital Yerevan where views were exchanged on the expansion of tourism cooperation.
I also feel very happy that Heraklion is the honored municipality at this year’s Philoxenia. Heraklion is a city with a centuries-old Armenian presence, in the center of which is the Armenian Church of Saint John the Forerunner, which is considered the oldest Armenian church in the Balkans and perhaps in Europe. A church which – in collaboration with the Municipality of Heraklion – we both bear the responsibility to promote as a monument of religious tourism for Armenians around the world.
Finally, let me extend my gratitude to the management and the executives of TIF – Helexpo who, despite the few available days of preparation, are carrying out a huge project.
I would like to thank you all so much for your kind attention and to wish lots of success to all participants.”