ECONOMY

Credit crunch hits ETA tenders

The Hellenic Tourism Development Company (ETA), responsible for managing state tourism assets, has pushed back the tender of several privatization deals as potential investors struggle to cover finance needs due to the credit crunch. A contract for the 50-year management of a 172,765-square-meter property near Volos, central Greece, which also allows for the construction of a hotel, is just one of the tenders that has been postponed. The deadline for expressions of interest regarding a second tender on property in Halkidiki, northern Greece, has already been rescheduled for January 20, according to sources. In early October, state-owned ETA launched eight new tenders to turn over tourism assets to the private sector in a bid to improve returns on its billion-euro portfolio. Tourism Minister Aris Spilio-topoulos had said the tenders will help improve the efficiency of ETA assets, estimated to be worth some 1.2 billion euros. Greece’s tourism industry is one of the country’s largest sectors, accounting for about 20 percent of annual gross domestic product. According to the Institute of Tourism Research and Forecasting (ITEP), the sector has started to feel the pinch of the global economic slowdown as tourist arrivals in the first 10 months of the year fell by more than 1 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, a government privatization committee will assess three bids submitted for the privatization of Corfu’s casino on December 19 after ETA postponed the procedure yesterday. Regency, Club Hotel Loutraki and Vivere-Theros International Gaming are the three parties that are taking part in the privatization of the Corfu casino. Postponing the procedure was necessary in order to allow time for the privatization board to provide the three bidders with further information that had been requested by the interested parties.