Greece has in front of it a unique historical opportunity, taking advantage of the funds from the Recovery Fund to enrich its tourism product and to proceed to a barrage of investments in infrastructure that will give new dynamics to the development of the economy.
Dimitris Andriopoulos, CEO of Dimand speaking at the Delphi Economic Forum, which is under the auspices of the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, stressed that it is a unique historical opportunity for Greece to proceed to drastic changes and to use the funds from the Recovery Fund, through urban regeneration and investments from the private sector in order to enrich its tourism product.
As he mentioned, Greece cannot afford, due to infrastructure, to receive 35 – 40 million tourists. It must focus on quality tourism and on developing religious and sports tourism, health tourism, and on attracting tourists with upgraded needs.
He added how many areas of Attica are changing, making special reference to Piraeus and the very important project of the tower of Piraeus which is to be completed in two years, will be the second tallest building after the towers of Elliniko. As he characteristically stressed, “the urban coastal front will create something unique in Greece on a pan-European level.” He made special reference to construction methods, since as he said, now all the buildings are sustainable, green, and with low electricity consumption. We, the investors, need to focus on urban regeneration in order for cities, society, and the economy to move forward. ”
Barrage of tourist investments
For his part, George Chrysikos, CEO of Grivalia Hospitality, also referred to the fact that Greece must attract quality tourism. According to Mr. Chrysikos, Grivalia has been developing a barrage of tourism investments for the last six years, developing a number of projects. He made special reference to the Amanzoe complex which proved that a luxury tourist product can attract a significant number of tourists and upgrade the image of the country abroad.
By the summer of 2022, investments are expected to be completed in Asteria Glyfada, a luxury hybrid city resort at a cost of 110 million euros and the hotel unit in Kalo Livadi in Mykonos. He stressed that in the coming years with the investments that will take place in the Athenian Riviera, the tourists from 7 million that have today can double or even triple. Finally, he added that in the new generation of hotels great importance is given in terms of sustainability, reducing the energy footprint, and energy efficient buildings.
George Velos, General Manager of Commercial & Business Development of Fraport Greece, stated that the contribution of the airports significantly promotes the upgrading of the Greek tourist product. They are the gateway to the country, as it is the first and last image that a visitor has in a destination. They are a key point of evaluation for the visitor and contribute to the travel experience. Mr. Velos added that now Greece has new safe airports that provide the full range of services and have the ability to receive more routes.
As he characteristically stated, “the backbone of the tourist infrastructure is airports”.
Tourism and education
Athanasios Karagiannis, Head of Investments of PRODEA Investments made a special reference to the issue of education, emphasizing that “the education of the Greek society in tourism, even from school, is a very basic issue”.
He stressed that in Greece the hotel industry is mainly “family-owned” and there is no proper education, which is often a “thorn” for attracting investment. A very important problem, as he mentioned, is licensing, as many times a transaction cannot proceed due to urban planning changes and bureaucracy and hotels become non-transferable.
According to Mr. Karagiannis, it is very important for the hotelier’s culture to move from the family model to the professional one, while the training of human resources plays a very important role in a better tourist product.Manolis Sigalas, Vice President and CEO for Southern Europe Hill International (Hellas) said that it is a historic opportunity for Greece and a challenge for the new projects that are underway and those provided for in the Greek proposal of the Recovery Fund, such as the extension of the cruise pier in Piraeus, the Alimos marina, the project of Elliniko which is a grand project, the investment in Asteria of Glyfada, the peninsula of Asteras Vouliagmeni where a marina “jewel” will be created in the SE Mediterranean region.
At the same time, the development of Eleftherios Venizelos Airport will change the dynamics of Attica. As he characteristically mentioned, a golden 10 years for tourist infrastructure projects in Greece awaits us. The pace of investment will be cataclysmic and it is necessary to create new and promising jobs.