An flurry of early bookings and airline tickets from Belgium to Greece, with the addition of more direct flights to 20 Greek destinations, was recorded during the 63rd Salon des Vacances exhibition held in Brussels. The exhibition had the participation of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) office in the Low Countries. GNTO participated in the exhibition with a 200-sqm pavilion and a number of co-exhibitors, including the Greek regions of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Central Macedonia, Epirus, North Aegean, Crete, Ionian Islands and Central Greece, as well as the municipalities of Volos, Eastern and Western Samos, the tourism organisation of Chalkidiki and enterprises of the tourism sector. The exhibition had 156 exhibitors and 128 co-exhibitors from 46 destinations, while 28,695 individuals and 130 journalists visited the exhibition. Meanwhile, at the foot of the Acropolis on Monday Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias and US Ambassador in Athens Geoffrey Pyatt signed a Greek-US memorandum of understanding on tourism cooperation, updating the previous one signed 31 years ago. Its objective is to increase bilateral trade in travel services. Kikilias stressed that 2022 will be a record year in direct flights between Greece and the US, reaching up to nine per day, and offering more than 460,000 seats. Pyatt pointed out there will be 14 different services between Greek and US airports this summer, highlighting there is a great demand from US tourists. Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) Secretary General Dimitris Fragakis said on Thursday, during the 7th Delphi Economic Forum that Greece saw a slowdown in bookings in early March due to the uncertainty caused by the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. However, balance returned in recent weeks and Fragakis said he feels optimistic that this year will be much better compared to 2021. “We are receiving positive messages for the summer tourism season, with early bookings and bookings remaining on a positive trend – better than expected – and we are also expecting more revenues,” he said. During the forum, Fragakis also referred to the Greek government’s efforts to overcome the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the multiple ways this has been a benefit for tourism in the Mediterranean country. “Greece will capitalize on the solid, significant effort the Greek government has made during the last two years. Tourism last year capitalized 55-60 percent from this effort and this year the percentage will be significantly higher,” he said. Despite the challenges of Covid-19 and its impact on tourism and travel worldwide, Fragakis believes that Greek tourism has gained from the circumstances for three reasons: – First, the Greek brand was significantly enhanced. “Greece’s positive image and credibility has allowed the country to remain within the top 5 European tourism destinations,” he said – Second, the country also took a step back to assess mistakes of the past and change its growth model – Third, instead of following developments, Greece became part of the solution. “Greece took a leading role in finding solutions,” Fragakis said, referring to the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ proposal in 2021 for the launch of a digital green certificate to facilitate travel within the EU. Credit: John Gilham / Alamy Stock Photo Moreover, the GNTO’s secretary general said Greece had managed to create the conditions for synergies and a collaborative working environment. “We are all working together… the government, ministries, local authorities, the GNTO, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), hoteliers’ associations, tourism entrepreneurs and employees… And the results are very positive,” he concluded. The Delphi Economic Forum 2022 is taking place as a live event in Delphi until April 9. READ MORE: AEGEAN opens new Business Lounge at Athens Airport.