The First Greek-Serbian Tourism Forum to increase the growth of tourism and develop specialty tourism between the two countries throughout the year was held in Thessaloniki on Friday.
A total of 97 tourist agencies and organizations attended from Serbia and 135 from Greece, including Chambers of Commerce and representatives of the Thessaloniki International Fair-Helexpo. The Forum is being held in conjunction with the 34th International Tourism Exhibition “Philoxenia”.
Greek Secretary General for Tourism Evrydiki Kourneta said that Greece remains the most popular holiday destination for Serbs, with more than 1 million visitors traveling to the country in 2017, an increase of 29.1% over 2016 which saw 856,000 visitors. Serbian Consul General in Thessaloniki Sinisa Pavic said the two countries shared similar ways of thinking and character.
Serbian participants presented information on tourism destinations beyond Belgrade, which is the sole destination Greek visitors usually consider when making travel plans to Serbia.
Kostas Georgakos, president of the Greek-Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Northern Greece, said that when the E10 highway is completed in 2019, it will shorten the route from Thessaloniki to points north in Serbia, with the drive to the border taking 2.5 hours and to Belgrade 5.5 hours. It will also mean shorter drives to other Serbian cities.
The Greek-Serbian Chamber signed Memoranda of Cooperation with both the Serbian Tourism Organization, in order to to improve the economic relations between the two countries, and with the Free Zone Pirot (FZP), a free-trade zone in southern Serbia, in order to promote trade and industry and expand economic relations. Georgakos stated that the FZP has been ranked as the best free-trade zone in Europe and the third best in the world.
The Forum was also attended by tourism agencies from Bosnia-Herzegovina.