Professor Harry Coccossis, Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Development delivered the opening remarks at a press conference hosted by Alpine Center, the SwissBusinessSchool for Hotel & Tourism Management Education in Greece on 19 July at the Athens Hilton.

Photo of the Advisory Board
From left to right: Mr Pangiotis Podimatas, Managing Director of P.C. Podimatas Audiovisuals SA; Mr Kostas Konstantinidis, Managing Director of Heliotopos Conferences;  Ms Irini Varda-Capsis, Commercial Director of Capsis Conventions and Resort Hotels/Sofitel and Ms Sybil Hofmann, President, Alpine Center; and Ms Vivi Papadopoulou, Registrar, Alpine Center.

The purpose of the press conference was to announce the importance of a rapidly growing segment of the Greek tourism industry and the urgent need for a specialized, quality educational course to ensure its success and sustainability.  Prof. Coccossis emphasised that the Ministry of Tourism fully supports Alpine’s educational initiative to help fill the need for trained professionals in the conference-based tourism industry in Greece.

The Events & Conventions industry is rapidly emerging in Greece, while the demand for specialized professionals and managers is already at a critically high point.  The aim of the Events & Conventions Management course is to educate and train specialized professionals by providing students with theoretical and practical simulations as well as giving them the opportunity to participate firsthand in the development and management of actual industry events and conventions through internships before they formally enter the job market.

The 2-year course of study leading to the award of a Swiss Diploma incorporates theory with 20 weeks of paid practical training each year from a wide variety of event and convention environments.

The new course will receive advice and guidance from a special Advisory Board consisting of approximately 40 distinguished industry leaders representing the conference, tourism and mass media sectors.  The Advisory Board is chaired by Ms Irini Varda-Capsis, Commercial Director of Capsis Conventions & Resort Hotels/Sofitel, and overseen by the Executive Committee consisting of Mr Panagiotis Podimatas, Managing Director of P.C. Podimatas Audiovisual S.A.; Mr Konstantinos Konstandinides, Managing Director of Heliotopos Conferences; and Ms Sybil Hofmann, President of Alpine Center.  The purpose of the Executive Committee is to foster close links between Alpine Center and the industry, which in turn will assist in the recognition of the course, guarantee a relevant industry-driven curriculum, as well as ensuring meaningful internships and challenging career placement opportunities for the students.

Photo displaying Eric Hofmann,  Dr Mike Lefever , Professor Harry Coccossis,  Mrs Sybil Hofmann,
From left to right: Eric Hofmann, VP Alpine Center, Dr Mike Lefever, Academic Dean,Professor Harry Coccossis, ExecutiveSecretary of the Ministry of Tourism Sybil Hofmann, President, Alpine Center

Following a presentation by Ms Vivi Papadopoulou, Alpine Center’s Registrar, Ms Irini Varda-Capsis referred to tourism as the Future of Greece.  She spoke about the professional opportunities that congress tourism holds as well as the need for executives with specialized knowledge.  Mr Kostas Konstantinidis analyzed the professional profile of a Meeting Planner focusing on the knowledge, skills and abilities required to succeed in the Events and Conventions Industry while Mr Panagiotis Podimatas’s presentation focused on the important role of technology in congress tourism.

Ms Sybil Hofmann, Alpine’s President, thanked the Ministry of Tourism, the media, and the members of the new Advisory Board.  She concluded by saying “Having a dynamic chair and well-recognised industry leaders and key media representatives on the Advisory Board greatly enhances the course’s prestige and visibility.  A course with a well-chosen Advisory Board is a clear indication that the institution’s administration wants a relevant and industry-driven learning experience which can contribute to the future development of leaders in this industry and the growth of tourism in Greece.”