Rio-Antirio bridge a savior

«The Rio-Antirio bridge is one of the largest in the world,» says Pefanis, «and an extremely difficult project, due to the seismic fault line which had to be dealt with and the strong prevailing winds.» As an international technological achievement, it can attract visitors from around the world. «The French builders have created a wonderful archive of the project. Already certain target groups – technical companies, technical schools and institutes – have expressed interest in visiting the bridge and finding out about how it was built,» says Pefanis. «Even if we only capitalize on that interest, it will be enough. So we are thinking of how we can involve the bridge in some Patras 2006 events that are compatible with the institution so that we can promote the project worldwide.» «This project leaves behind 270 million euros’ worth of so-called rubbish, according to the builders,» says Mikroutsikos. «A Harvard study shows that major projects around the world such as this bridge leave behind valuable ‘rubbish’ which local agencies take and use for tourism and cultural purposes; for example there could be an aquarium in Antirio and a virtual-reality museum in Rio, which could bring in 2.9 billion euros a year. If we can get each of the 20 million people who cross the bridge every year to spend one day here, we’d be talking about 7.5 percent of the area’s GDP and 16,000 new jobs, meaning bringing unemployment down from the current level of 18 percent to 2 percent. That’s what development though cultural tourism means, and it can be achieved by linking the project with Patras 2006.»

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