NATIONAL INSTITUTION FOR THE ORGANISATION OF EXHIBITIONS, CONGRESSES AND CULTURAL EVENTS

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HISTORY

A thrilled event!

THESSALONIKI INTERNATIONAL FAIR

THE HISTORY of Thessaloniki International Fair is inseparably connected to the history of Greece’s economy. From its foundation to this day, almost a century later, it reflects the rhythm and atmosphere of domestic and international entrepreneurship, while at the same time contributing to the cultural development of Greece, by organising artistic and sports events. Besides that, TIF is the annual “appointment” between political leadership and the Greek people, as regards the economy and the political agenda of the year to follow.

1926 - ‘The creation’ 

The celebratory inauguration of the first Thessaloniki International Fair on 3 October 1926 drew the attention of the most important Greek and international entrepreneurs of the time. The architect of this great event was politician Nikolaos Germanos (link wikipedia), who opened a gate of enormous importance for the economy, culture, and growth in the broader region of Southeastern Europe. The first exhibition centre in Greece was a reality and the 1st Thessaloniki International Fair welcomed 100,000 visitors.

1937 – 1940 - ‘Development with obstacles...’

The TIF exhibition centre was transferred to its current facilities in 1937 and continued its very important work there. THE FAIR — as it is characteristically referred to — was now a mirror for Greece’s growth, and it attracted the crème de la crème of entrepreneurship and high society. However, in 1940 World War II disrupted its operation, causing great damage to its infrastructure, and the Fair ceased to operate for approximately 10 years.

1951 - 1960 - ‘Onwards, to glory once more’

During the post-war period Thessaloniki was trying to find its footing again and TIF was the ace up its sleeve in achieving this. In 1951, the Marshall Plan — providing US financial support to European countries following WWII — included in its budget the looted areas of TIF. Thus, it funded the re-operation of its facilities, and the Fair started “towards glory once more”. In the decade that followed the annual TIF events would host global innovations, major businesses, and celebrities and international artists, who would highlight the lifestyle of the era.

1966 - ‘The peak’

With 1,634,540 visitors, this was the landmark year of the 50s and 60s, when TIF reached the peak of its success. There were 400 Greek exhibitors and an average of 1500 international exhibitors per event! TIF, beyond its entrepreneurial interest, had become by then the high society and artistic event of the year, as it hosted the Song Festival at Alexandreio Melathron - the stadium with the French name ‘Palais des Sport’. Fireworks, crowds, theme parks, shows, the general sparkle of this major event would be imprinted in the memory of its countless admirers forever.

1970 - ‘The first innovations’

With its new corporate name, TIF HELEXPO expanded its facilities with larger exhibition spaces to host increasingly important international events in a 180,000 square metre area. Early in the decade, in 1971, a high-tech (for the era) construction appears inside the TIF exhibition area: OTE Tower, which has been an emblematic landmark of Thessaloniki ever since. During the same period, new cultural events, such as the Greek Film Festival, take on an international orientation, attracting film stars.

1998 - ‘Honoured Countries’

The institution of the honoured country was introduced at the 63rd Thessaloniki International Fair, and the People’s Republic of China held the place of honour. A large entrepreneurial delegation, escorted by crowds of artists, filled the Exhibition and all of central Thessaloniki with impressive events of entrepreneurial and entertainment interest. Since then other countries followed, USA (twice), France, Russia, and India (twice).

2000 - ‘The changes’

In 2000 the national exhibition agency celebrated its 75th anniversary!
The transition into the new century, however, brought about the split of the body into two companies, TIF SA and HELEXPO - HELLENIC EXHIBITIONS SA. Thessaloniki International Fair was now organised by HELEXPO SA and was called upon to introduce new services and technologies in order to be more competitive and retain its prestige as a general exhibition, which, over the years and with the development of sectoral trade fairs, had started to record losses... Nevertheless, important initiatives and clever themes continued to attract participants’ interest in TIF.

2013 - Τoday

Thirteen years later, the two companies were reunified into a joint venture with the company name TIF HELEXPO SA, in order for this new actor to continue its progress towards growth. This was the year when Thessaloniki International Fair gradually started on a journey of extroversion, with the creation of new exhibition brands, theme parks, and important synergies and parallel events. During the period that followed, TIF upgraded its organisational characteristics, as well as its strategic role in the broader region of South-Eastern Europe, with the reintroduction of the ‘honoured country’ institution, in the context of which it invites and hosts global economic superpowers.

Thessaloniki International Fair continues to be the largest exhibition institution in Greece, and a multifaceted event of entrepreneurial and entertainment value with international radiance. It is addressed to all ages, from the general public to the business world, and even international figures and political leadership (B2C, B2B, and B2G organisation characteristics).