ECONOMY

Attica zoo operators have more attractions in pipeline

Two new theme parks, Dinosavropolis and Okeanopolis, are under development by the company that owns and runs the Attica Zoological Park, something that could go a long way toward enhancing the region?s tourism product.

Sources told Kathimerini that Greece?s tourism authorities recently approved the creation of the two new theme parks, paving the way for their operation.

The French founder of the Attica wildlife park, Jean-Jacques Lesueur, tells Kathimerini that the new attractions will be developed on plots adjacent to the zoo. The plots required have already been purchased.

Lesueur envisions Dinosavropolis as a museum of the evolution of species, with an emphasis on the era of the dinosaurs. He adds that it will be the only one of its kind in Europe and that there are already deals in the pipeline for cooperation with foreign companies from Japan, Britain, China, Denmark, the Netherlands and the US. The Dinosavropolis park will stretch over an area of 10,000 square meters in its entirety while the museum building will cover 3,000 sq.m. There will also be an events hall. Lesueur expects that Dinosavropolis will constitute a 5-million-euro investment and sees it going into operation next spring.

Okeanopolis, meanwhile, will be a modern aquarium of international standards, says Lesueur. Among its architects is Michael Photiadis, who was a member of the team that designed the new Acropolis Museum.

Lesueur states that Okeanopolis will be five times bigger than the Cretaquarium near the town of Gournes in Crete, covering 8,500 sq.m. on a 14,000 sq.m. plot. He also suggests that work on the park?s construction will begin next year and will be completed in 2014. The planned budget is 8.5 million euros and the company has applied for both parks to be included in the National Strategic Reference Framework.

Lesueur?s aim is for the three parks combined to constitute the biggest zoological park in Southeastern Europe. With the completion of Dinosavropolis and Okeanopolis, it will likely be included in the tourism schedules of foreign tour operators for the region of Attica as well as a recommended trip for passengers on cruise ships docking at Piraeus.

The Attica Zoological Park opened to the public in May 2000, when it was called the Ornithological Park due to its focus on birds. It covers a surface area of 200,000 square meters at Spata, eastern Attica, and today hosts some 2,200 animals of 380 species.

The number of visitors last year came to 325,000, with Lesueur estimating that 30 percent of those were not Attica residents and that a large number were non-Greeks. Attica Zoological Park SA?s turnover came to about 6 million euros in 2011.