ECONOMY

Stalled tourism development given a strong push

There are a number of obstacles that have delayed important tourism investment projects in Greece, but a new law voted through Parliament recently, allowing more complex forms of accommodation, will clear many of these and help get some stalled developments back on track.

The law addresses the procedures of conducting and approving environmental impact studies, amends an existing law on biodiversity, and introduces certain criteria that will make it possible to develop plots for sports tourism facilities on land which has been designated as forestland, among other steps that will either clear the way completely for certain large projects or work in combination with other reforms to allow others to move ahead.

Moreover, streamlining the process of tourism investments will further be aided by the establishment of a special service by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism that will green-light construction and development in the sector.

The plan outlined in the presidential decree accompanying the law will have to be approved by the Council of State, the country?s highest administrative court.

According to this plan, a special service will be set up to inform potential investors of the structural framework for tourism infrastructure.

The service will receive and examine investors? proposals, while it will also work with an engineering department whose task will be to assess the suitability of plots suggested for development in cases where approval of architectural studies and building licenses is required.

Lokros SA, a subsidiary of Luxembourg-based Lokris that will be celebrating its sixth anniversary in March next year, is planning a 2-billion-euro tourism investment on a 1,250-hectare plot it owns at Atalanti, in the eastern region of Fthiotida.

Among other things, the plan entails the construction of three hotels, tourist residences, three golf courses and a golf academy.

It also includes the development of a 100-hectare organic farm and agritourism destination, as well as 45 kilometers of hiking trails.

The investment company does not expect more than 5 percent of the plot?s entire surface to be built on, while it estimates that the initial environmental impact study will be ready within the next two months. The project is expected to generate around 8,000 new jobs.

Dolphin Capital Investors has 10 projects in the pipeline for Greece: three at Porto Heli in Argolida, three on Crete, one on the island of Kea, one at Skorponeri in Fthiotida, another at Nies in Magnesia and the last at Douneika in Ileia.

The founder and managing director of the group, Miltos Kambourides, told Kathimerini that the total cost of these investments will come to 2 billion euros, with the first hotel in the so-called Porto Heli Collection expected to open in spring.

According to Kambourides, the hotel will operate under the name Aman Resorts and will be the first resort in Europe managed by the famous Indian luxury hotel chain which boasts 200,000 return patrons a year.

Minoan Group is in the process of altering — pending the Council of State?s ruling — an older plan for an investment at Cavo Sidero in Crete, which was first conceived in 1993.

According to preliminary information, the initial budget of 1.2 billion euros will be significantly pared down, as will the size of the hotel the company is planning to build.