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The ‘Syracuse Experience’ in Georgia for the WFTGA 2021

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Tbilisi has recently hosted the 18th Convention of the World Federation of Tourist Guides Association (WFTGA). From January 20th to 25th, tourist guides from all over the world gathered in the capital of Georgia to take part in workshops, conferences and debates on common international issues. As is now a tradition, the choice of the host destination for 2021 Convention was at the center of the dense work agenda.
Italy (with Sicily); Serbia; Portugal and the Philippines: four competing destinations to win the bid for the international event; four very different realities, culturally and geographically, but each one with a strong identity to present to the audience of international guides. A stimulating opportunity to present Sicily, the chosen destination for the Italian candidacy, to a heterogeneous and demanding audience. An opportunity that has been used by the bidding team.
Patrizia Pasolini, Symposia srl declares: “When we found out about the bid for the 2021 edition of the world conference of WFGTA, and we realized that the event had never been held in Italy, we thought that it was the right moment to try and that bringing this conference to Italy would have been the right opportunity to present to a qualified audience of guides the enormous cultural heritage of our country “- and concludes -“We have been successfully dealing with bidding for the organization of large international conferences in Italy. This also was an opportunity to work successfully and in synergy with our Sicilian colleagues“.
Indeed, a precious synergy was activated by Symposia. ANGT, National Association of Tourist Guides, AGTS, Association of Tourist Guides of Syracuse, the City of Syracuse and Sicily Convention Bureau, these are the actors involved in the bid process that from Italy to Georgia supported the destination in order to win this prestigious event.

Carlo Castello, President of AGTS and Treasurer ANGT, says: “When in June 2018 they asked me if Sicily and, consequently, Syracuse, my city, could be available to organize the world convention of tourist guides in January 2021 I did not even have a moment of hesitation and immediately said yes. Also because Syracuse had already had the chance to host the National Convention in 1991 and the European edition in 2004; so I thought that in case of victory Syracuse would have become the only city in the world to have organized all the three conventions“- and concludes – “It was a stimulating and exciting adventure that brought several people to dream, a dream that we count to translate into reality as soon as possible. I thank everyone for their precious collaboration and in particular my colleague Lucia Iacono, who has been a very valid choice for the passion and competence with which she presented Syracuse and the whole island “.

Lucia Iacono, AGTS, replies: “The WFTGA convention in Tbilisi will remain memorable, even if we did not return home with the victory in hand. Personally, I return home with the awareness, as a tour guide, of being cultural ambassadors of the world and in the world, and the confirmation of how important teamwork is, in synergy, between public and private sector“.
Valid support has been identified in the Sicily Convention Bureau that, in the person of Daniela Marino, assisted by Gabriella Minissale, in charge of projects and bids, helped the Italian pco to build up an effective bid. Daniela Marino, Director of Operations of the Bureau, has declared: “Being involved by Symposia, with whom we have been collaborating for years, has given us great pleasure, especially due to the excellent synergy established with all the partners actively working in the bidding process. Sicily with Syracuse, a new destination for most of the participants, has conquered the audience proving a multicultural, welcoming destination, able to offer a varied program of activities and a range of attractions of impact. We are sure that the future will offer the deserved international recognition to the destination and we will give our best to support the Municipality and the Associations involved in order to best present our territory “.

The city of Syracuse, starting from the Mayor Francesco Italia, moving to the association of local hoteliers, to Confindustria and Confcommercio and other local operators and associations, has responded with the generosity that distinguishes Sicily and the Sicilians. Francesco Italia on the experience in Tbilisi said: “An engaging and exciting experience, lived with the pride of representing Italy and a territory with extraordinary opportunities still to discover“.
Also Sicily Region Government, the Municipalities of Noto and Ferla and the Consortium of the Valley of the Temples have made it happens, demonstrating how the chorality in a project is an essential element for the effectiveness of the result.

In fact, although it was Serbia to be named the hosting destination for 2021 WFTGA Convention, the second position reached by Syracuse and the enthusiasm read in the faces of the listening audience is the proof that Sicily – and Italy in general – managed to leave an indelible mark to be considered a future choice as host destination.
If 2021 will be Novi Sad, hopefully in the next future Sicily will get its reward. The presentation by Andrea Ogunbisi, representing ANGT, Lucia Iacono for AGTS, Daniela Marino as Sicily Convention Bureau and finally the Mayor of Syracuse, who made himself available to conclude the intervention in Tbilisi on the occasion of the 2019 edition of WFGTA, has been sparkling and bodes well for a possible future success.

Several Sicilian companies and local suppliers have been collaborating by offering significant sponsorships for the benefit of the candidacy, a sign of a commendable effort lavished by the Sicilian operators for the territory. Among these the jeweler Carlo Izzo, who gave 50 silver coins depicting the head of Arethusa, as a tribute to the delegates of the over 42 countries part of the event.
Patrizia Pasolini, Symposia, concludes saying: “We are ready to reapply for the next edition of 2023 and we are convinced that, if the next time Syracuse is awarded, the Italian edition will remain memorable in the history of WFGTA“.

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