ECONOMY

Welcome boost for tourism properties

The government has prioritized measures for tourism accommodation which are aimed at bolstering investment in the industry, Anastassios Liaskos, deputy minister for tourism development said yesterday. Speaking at the Sixth Prodexpo Conference and Exhibition for Real Estate yesterday, Liaskos mentioned that, for the first time, a National Zoning Plan is being drafted for the development of tourism and the protection of the environment and mentioned that the ministry now has a Zoning Planning Department responsible for zoning organization and drafting of special studies on land effects as well as a Studies Section focusing on tourism-related areas that need special attention. Liaskos also talked about the strategic plan of the Tourism Development Company (ETA), whose portfolio includes 360 state properties, and the decisions made by the ministerial committee for privatizations about the utilization of state properties through private investments. «The property of the Greek National Tourism Organization, linked with the National Zoning Plan and the Investment Incentives Law and making the most of the recently-passed law for Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), offers the Greek and international business community a set of investment opportunities for the realization of investment programs of small and large scale with high attractiveness and returns,» Liaskos concluded. Meanwhile, the deputy minister has extended until March 2006 the deadline for hotels and rooms to let to secure the special operating licenses. The ministerial decision says all accommodations with expired licenses can have new ones issues provided all their documents are submitted by March 31, 2006. The exception is the fire safety license, which must be valid at all times. Malls With two giant malls scheduled to open in Athens shortly, Greece is viewed as having strong potential in consumer growth. Thus, economists are optimistic that new commercial developments in the country will be successful. Dika Agapitidou, general director of Athinaiki Economiki-Jones Lang LaSalle, said consumption in Greece makes prospects for the new malls appear positive. Her analysis of international retail and real estate trends show the market leading toward bigger shopping centers farther away from major city centers. Those attending the Prodexpo conference, held over the last couple of days at an Athens hotel, also heard Apostolos Tamvakakis, chairman of Lamda Development, which is developing the two malls to open in the next few weeks, refer to the difficulties of «commercializing» major developments – or transforming them into attractive spaces both for the companies that will use them and the consumers. The Prodexpo event further presented the challenges for investors interested in utilizing Olympic properties as well as the expanding real estate market in Serbia and Montenegro. Olympic Utilization General Secretary Spyros Kladas assured the conference that, through the Olympic Properties tenders and the PPPs, the viable management of the Olympic heritage will be secured in a way that will cover maintenance costs and ensure profits for investors and significant resources for local authorities while creating between 9,000 and 14,000 new jobs.