ECONOMY

Three lease projects planned for state tourism property use

State-owned tourism property utilization is entering a new phase with three major investment plans set for the long-term leasing process by the Tourism Development Company (ETA), which has recently completed its operational restructuring. The properties to be up for lease are the Corfu casino, the plots housing a golf course at Afandou on Rhodes, and another at Epanomi, near Thessaloniki, for the creation of a new course. ETA CEO Constantinos Zacharopoulos has submitted these plans as well as some minor-scale leasings; they are expected to receive approval soon from the ministerial privatization committee. Notably, ETA is putting great emphasis on attracting investments related to golf as the government intends to pull Greece from the bottom of the list of quality round-the-year tourism destinations. Relocation The Corfu casino is today housed in a hotel, to which ETA pays a rent of 350,000 euros per year. The casino belongs to an ETA subsidiary, Hellenic Casino Corfu, although the latter has not yet paid the 4.4 million euros needed to formally secure the rights. According to a study, the casino is to move to the Achillion mansion, which belongs to the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), with the cost to run to 8 million euros. The most likely scenario to date is the sale of 77.5 percent of the casino’s shares and the gradual concession of the remaining 22.5 percent over a period of 45 years (the company is to be dissolved in 2051) to the consortium that wins the tender, which will also contribute all its participation to Hellenic Corfu Casino (at least 3 million euros, or 40 percent of the investment) for the increase of the company’s share capital. The winning consortium will pay up front or within two years the price for securing 77.5 percent of the company. The second tender is for the use of the 1.83-square-kilometer plot where the Afandou golf course is, following two failed tenders and one that was canceled. Among the winner’s obligations will be the upgrade and modernization of the 18-hole course, along with the development of hotel infrastructure to support it (A- and B-category hotels). Other possible uses could include a new nine-hole course, a spa and thalassotherapy center, development of touristic accommodation and commercial stores, utilization of the beach and the formation of sports and other open-air facilities. A new company is to be created to which the investor will participate with a 51 to 65 percent share. After the company is dissolved (after 60 to 99 years), the shares will be returned to ETA at a symbolic price. Finally, the tender regarding the 0.6-sq.km. plot set out for a golf course in Epanomi, which began in 1999 but ran into problems, seems to be concluded at last. Although an agreement was signed in 1999 between GNTO and the Epanomi Golf company, the tender process has not yet been completed, which is not unusual in Greece. A series of state-owned Xenia hotels are also set for long-term lease, having been abandoned to decay. ETA however insists both on maintaining the modern entrepreneurship mentality, away from the 1980s models, and on preserving the buildings’ architecture, while also making them more profitable. This will allow for the expansion of the buildings.