As the World Travel Awards heads to Athens for the Europe Gala Ceremony 2014, Breaking Travel News reporter Phil Blizzard here speaks with Niki Fotiou, from host Divani Collection, about hosting the event, what scan be expected and the impact on the Greek tourism industry.
Breaking Travel News: How important was it to welcome the World Travel Awards to Greece for this first time?
Niki Fotiou: Phil, first of all, for us it’s a first time we’re hosting the World Travel Awards in Greece.
So it was a very important though to have a very clear idea of the events, and what we wanted to present to people who are going to attend.
So we had concluded that the Greek Event had to have a core that was the Greek philoxenia - which means ‘Friends to Strangers’.
So all our event and all our activities is based to the Greek the core of the Greek culture, which is that everybody is our guest, they’re not just somebody who came to the country.
So everybody is our personal guest, so we went them to have a very, very unique experience.
BTN: The awards are built around the three day experience, so for those guests attending, what is going to be the main elements of those three days?
NF: Usually the World Travel World ceremonies are held on one evening, it’s the main ceremony and the presentation of the award.
But for us how could we put all the Greek philoxenia in just one night - it was impossible.
So with the help of World Travel Awards Group, we presented our idea, which was to have a full weekend of events.
And they went for it, they love the idea.
So what we have organised, is a very beautiful welcome cocktail reception, on arrival, which is all Greek style, held at a private restaurant which on the beach.
So it’s a perfect way to say hello to Greece and to Athens and that will be on the evening of the August 1st.
Then next day, the morning, our guests will a very unique chance to have a private viewing of the Acropolis Museum, which has recently been awarded as one of the best museums around the world.
So that’s very unique and so the people will love it.
Then on the evening on the August 2nd, we have of course the World Travel Award ceremony, which we are all looking forward to, and to see who the big winners will be.
Finally we have organised a memorable private cruise from around 11:00 in the morning until 16:00 at lunch time.
Where we have a chance to see some islands, travel close by and have a very nice experience.
BTN: I am sure it is all going to be great experience and as you mentioned regarding the awards, people from all over Europe, from all aspects of travel and tourism will be flooding into the Athens to your hotel. So, when it comes to the awards themselves what can be expected regarding from the perspective of your hotel?
NF: We’ve been working so hard to keep this a mystery, but it will definitely be the Greek character, and the Greek philoxenia.
We want people to understand that both Greek companies, and the Greek tourist industry is ready to do everything and it’s up to it.
So I’m sure they will have a very, very nice dinner and it would be a memorable event.
BTN: The World Travel Awards gala evening, wherever they are in the world, is always a special spectacular event, so I’m sure it’s going to be great in Athens. Now let’s look at what it really means, the impact of hosting these awards for the city, for the country and also the hotel group?
NF: It was a very big responsibility for the Divan’s Group to bring the World Travel Awards to Greece and the reason we did it was because Athens and Greece, in general had a very bad publicity in the last two years with the economic crisis.
But we whole heartedly believe that this is way behind us.
So it’s back on track and we’re ready to show the whole of Europe that Athens can do everything, we have done the Olympics.
We have done so many things, but now we’re ready, we’re back on track, and we want everybody to know that.
BTN: So ready and back on track is good news. So in the time leading up to what is going to be a very special weekend, what is going to be your key focus?
NF: Run, run, run.
We’ve been working so close with the WTA-Group for almost a year now.
So now it is a fine turning, but we want everything to be memorable, we want you to be our ambassador when you go back home.