State to offload tourism interests

The government is expected to put into action next week a plan aimed at offloading some of the country’s decaying state-owned tourist operations, sources said yesterday, as the sector starts to enjoy the success of last year’s Olympic Games. In a meeting of the state privatization committee expected to take place on Monday, sources said that officials will approve the sale of Corfu’s casino, the leasing of a golf course in Rhodes and letting of a boat marina in Faliron, Athens. Additionally, the government is expected to lease out a number of state-owned hotels, many of which no longer operate, after locals had been complaining about their derelict condition. The large-ticket privatization on the agenda is the sale of 77 percent of the casino which has a license to operate until 2051. The government is aiming at cashing in on the boom the tourism sector is enjoying. Current estimates see tourist arrivals in Greece this summer up 11.5 percent compared with last year. Ioannis Evangelou, the president of the Greek Association of Travel Operators, said that there has been an increase in the quality of tourists this year. «It looks like attempts to attract quality tourism is working. A large number of visitors this year are looking for better-quality services,» he said. Industry officials attribute the upturn to the success of the Olympic Games last year and a 50-million-euro tourist promotional campaign the government is running overseas.