Facelifts for five gateways

Hellenic Tourist Properties (ETA), the asset management arm of the Greek National Tourism Organization, said yesterday five points of entry into the country up in the north will be beautified and revamped at a total cost of 6 million euros in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games. Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos said the gateways into the country were sorely in need of an upgrade and that a tight time frame meant ETA could only spruce up and not reconstruct the facilities. With the war in Yugoslavia over, he said, Greece expects to see more tourists coming from the Balkan countries via these gateways. The five points of entry, at Evzonoi and Niki which border on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Promachonas which borders on Bulgaria, Kipi which borders Turkey, and Kakavia at the Albanian border, are expected to pave the way for similar projects regarding harbors, bus terminals and other gateways into the country in the near future. The preliminary list also includes the ports at Igoumenitsa, Corfu and Patras. Renovation work will first kick off at Evzonoi, with the project scheduled to be completed in September. The other four facilities are expected to follow shortly and should also be ready in September. Athanassios Homenidis, chief executive of ETA, said the company plans to attract private investors to set up restaurants and tourist-related facilities at the gateways. Revenues raised from the businesses will be used to upgrade and maintain the points of entry. The facilities will also be equipped with telecommunications centers, post offices and currency exchange bureaus. Architectural firm Interform has been selected for the project. The private sector has also been enlisted to help upgrade other state-owned tourist facilities, such as marinas, hotels and the Parnitha casino in the runup to the 2004 Olympic Games.