UK-based event organizer INV International, in partnership with the US Department of Commerce at the Athens embassy, is holding the 2003 European Golf Investment and Real Estate Conference and Exhibition at the Atheneum Inter-Continental Hotel tomorrow and Saturday. The event, which starts at 2 p.m., is expected to be attended by a large number of business leaders, representatives and exhibitors from the leisure, hospitality and real estate industries and financiers and investors from all five continents. Speakers will focus on investment in golf courses and real estate abroad and experts will provide their views and experience on the present and future of the sector; presentations will also include comprehensive development and business plans for areas in Attica, Crete and Thesprotia. Among the main tourism destinations in the Mediterranean, Greece is a laggard in developing golf facilities. It currently has only six golf courses (five 18-hole and one nine-hole), while a further five are at the construction stage. By contrast, Spain has 272 golf courses (which earn it an estimated $3 billion annually), Italy 225, Portugal 63 and Turkey 12. Golf facilities are seen as a potential strong boost to the real estate sector if courses are planned as part of comprehensive development schemes in surrounding areas, such as upmarket residential and hotel complexes and shopping malls. Walter Hage, commercial adviser at the US Embassy in Athens, says the event will lay strong emphasis on the organization of matchmaker meetings between US participants and Greek public and private sector officials involved in tourism infrastructure projects. Akis Ikkos, general manager of JBR Hellas, says the conference offers «a long-awaited opportunity to kick-start a market of at least 200,000 golfers in Greece.» For further information, contact Peter Heilmann, director of INV International, on 210.620.1441 or 699.272.4102, or visit the website www.invgolf.com.