The 4th Annual Conference of the International Place Branding Association is hosted by the Department of Planning and Regional Development (DPRD) of the School of Engineering of the University of Thessaly in Volos. The Department of Planning and Regional Development functions since 1989 and gained an autonomous administrative status in October 1996. Apart from the basic undergraduate program, the Department supports 7 postgraduate courses. In the research activity of the Department are involved 12 Laboratories, covering the most important subjects of the Department.
The Laboratory of Tourism Planning, Research and Policy (LA.RE.TOUR.) is a specialist unit within the Department of Planning and Regional Development that engages in research and supports teaching needs in the fields of spatial analysis and planning for the development of tourism resources, policy and evaluation, with an emphasis on alternative forms of tourism (such as cultural, ecological and agricultural tourism). It seeks to encourage sustainable development in urban, as well as rural, areas, and the evaluation of the environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts of tourism in regional development. At the centre of LA.RE.TOUR.’s interests are also issues of identity configuration and strategic promotion of cities’ image, based on Place Marketing and Place Branding Strategies.