ECONOMY

Gov’t capitalizes on tourism assets

The state-owned Tourism Development Company (ETA) has launched eight new tenders to hand over tourism assets to the private sector in a bid to improve returns on its billion-euro portfolio. Tourism Minister Aris Spilioto-poulos said the tenders, relating to the development and management of facilities, will help improve the efficiency of assets managed by ETA, estimated to be worth some 1.2 billion euros. «This is a massive chapter in the country’s tourism development which had remained idle for many years,» the minister told reporters. The tender deals, to be awarded on a long-term basis, include bathing facilities in Nafpaktos, central Greece, and two large real estate holdings at Kala Nera, Magnesia and Aghios Ioannis Nikitis, Halkidiki. No financial details regarding the tenders were given. ETA also recently completed two more tenders, including the Flisvos Marina near the Peace and Friendship Stadium, while another five contracts are in the final stage. Greece’s tourism industry is one of the country’s largest sectors, accounting for about 20 percent of annual gross domestic product. The number of visitors to Greece has been growing in recent years but could be headed for a small dip in 2008 as the global economic slowdown and stronger euro take their toll. Data for the first eight months of the year from the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) show that the number of incoming visitors remained unchanged from last year’s levels. However, revenues in the sector have seen a reduction of about 4 percent. Spiliotopoulos also said ETA is planning to spend 15 million euros on projects that have been scheduled for the next two years. »For 2008 we have completed project investments worth 4.3 million euros,» he added. [email protected]