Early 2018 was a timid year for Greek hoteliers who were on the same page as most other European destinations. Nevertheless, the Greek government continues to work hard to make the destination attractive to investors and visitors. What are the latest measures? Who is investing?
A priority: attract foreign investors
Greek authorities are relying on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to support the development of its infrastructure and tourism offer. This strategy has been successful since 2016 with a steady increase in the sums invested. After a bleak year in 2015 due to the refusal of creditors to pay aid in September 2014, investor confidence is gradually returning and reached a record year in 2017.
Greece is making progress and relies on investors, promoting its geographical, climatic and natural assets as well as its status as an emerging destination that makes it attractive in terms of prices. The government is making foreign investment a priority to revitalize its economy and develop its destinations.
11 other ports are in the process of being privatized: Thessaloniki with Deutsche Invest Equity Partners, Belterra Investments and Terminal Link as investors, which hold 67% of the port for an investment of 232 million euros, plus 180 million euros of investment to make the port an export platform for the Balkans.
Volos, Rafina, Igoumenitsa, Patras, Alexandroupolis, Heraklion, Elefsina, Lavrion, Corfu and Kavala are also on the list of privatized ports.
The Middle Empire has a strong presence in Greece
Chinese investors China COSCO made no mistake with the acquisition of 51% of the Port of Piraeus a few months ago. Xu Lirong, President and CEO of the Chinese firm, is developing a horizontal investment strategy in Greece with the takeover announce four months ago in the port that is ranked 3rd in terms of container trafic in the Mediterranean and 7th in Europe.
The Chinese government plans to develop its territorial influence, the Belt and Road Initiative launched in 2013 by Xi Jinping has resulted in the development of a road, rail, air and maritime networks throughout Europe that brings China closer to its target markets and will allow it to expand its territorial influence with respect to the United States. Beijing's goal is to occupy areas throughout Eurasia and also Africa and the Middle East.
The geographic position of Greece at the heart of the Mediterranean, a link between countries to the north and countries to the south, makes it a pivotal territory for Chinese investors. The Trans Adriatic Pipeline that connects the Caspian Sea to the Adriatic also crosses Greece from east to west for 550 km.
Infrastructures and a tourist supply rising in range and taking shape
The former international airport, a flagship project of Greek transformation, is undergoing restructuring. It is the country's most extensive revitalization project and includes housing, hotels, museums, wellness areas, shopping areas, conference centres... in short, a destination within the destination on 3.5 km of coastline.
Arrival of the Four Seasons Astir Palace for 303 keys in Athens; installation of One&Only Kea Island for an estimated investment of 150 million euros by Kerzner International Holdings Limited and Dolphin Capital Group, the group's first property in Europe; opening of an Ikos Resort on the island of Cos for 374 keys: the Greek pipeline is doing well. It is an inevitable transformation for a destination that until now has had a largely independent offer.
Radisson Hotel Group announced on May 13 the opening of 180 rooms in Nicosie under the banner of Radisson Blu.
An additional discreet appeal for tourists: the reconstruction of the core of the Parthenon, which attracts more than 7 million visitors per year, after three decades of renovations at the site. In addition there are the scheduled opening in Athens' center to attract an increasingly demanding target seeking authenticity.
Hotel performances slump at the beginning of 2019
It should nonetheless be noted that there has been a decreased seasonality of the destination in 2018. 2019 should make it possible to verify this trend that can only be positive for tourism actors at the destination. These results may be observed closely as certain destinations such as Cyprus are very dependent on British clientele.
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