ECONOMY

Tourism group plans to invest 85 mln in west Peloponnese

Hotel group Aldemar is planning investments worth 85 million euros in the next five years in the western Peloponnese, where it already operates a hotel unit, a conference center and a spa. The company’s executive director, Alexandros Angelopoulos, told Kathimerini that in the existing unit at Skafidia, close to Pirgos, Aldemar will create a new hotel wing with a capacity of 120 rooms, a heated winter swimming pool, a complete conference center with capacity for 2,000 people, restaurants to seat 1,200 people and underground parking spaces for 300 cars. At Aghios Ilias, the group is planning the erection of a new four- or five-star hotel with 700 beds and a luxury hotel unit including 200 beds and a pioneering spa center. In the medium term, the company intends to use the land it owns to the east of the hotel units, split into 250 plots of 1,000 square meters each, to construct luxury holiday houses of various sizes. Aldemar controls six units in Greece, as, apart from the hotel at Skafidia, it owns three at Hersonissos on Crete and two on Rhodes. Their combined capacity reaches 5,500 beds and employees 1,800 people. The group also owns three conference centers and two thalassotherapy centers. Angelopoulos stressed that the creation of the first thalassotherapy center in Greece in 1997, the Royal Mare Thalasso in Crete, also created a new market for holidays for health and wellbeing. Nine years on and with more than 50 spas operating with great success in the country, the Aldemar initiative has proven strategically important. The areas of greatest interest to tourism development enterprises are those with greater demand as well as internationally determined high level of prices. Such areas are northern Crete and Halkidiki and, to a lesser extent, Rhodes, Kos and Corfu, Angelopoulos said. Some parts of western Greece are also attracting interest, as they can be connected with airports already in operation. This category of investment would entail the improvement of road and airport infrastructure in those areas, he added. However, Angelopoulos argued that business logic dictates continuing investment in emerging tourism destinations. Investing in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Libya, for cost-related reasons, would likely fetch bigger and quicker returns than investing in Greece. He did note, though, that the group’s philosophy remains Greek-oriented. Commenting on international tourism developments and their effect on Greek tourism, Angelopoulos stated that hotels in Greece are suffering less demand, which has forced them to hold to the same prices, to make special offers and to shrink the tourism season. As for next year’s pricing policy, he estimates that the experience of previous years will be repeated and tour operators will exercise their usual pressure on hoteliers. Enterprises whose products have comparative advantages can easily resist the pressures, as is the case in more advanced markets such as Spain. Finally, asked whether there are any chances for medium-income Greeks to enjoy vacations in luxury hotel units, he says that «the opportunities for inexpensive holidays are always related to the period in which the customer intends to take it.» «The big difference between Greeks and foreigners is that the former choose to go during a 30-day period when prices are very high,» said Angelopoulos.