By Sandy Tsantaki - September in Athens. The weather is still sunny, it’s the 75th day of the new government (as the United States Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt has stated) and the suits seem to be well-fitted with all main protagonists finally wearing a tie.
On Friday, the Delphi Economic Forum organized a foreign direct investment roundtable at the Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, seeking the attention of the business world with foreign participants like investment banks (Goldman Sachs International, Rothschild Global Advisory, JP Morgan, Bank of China), tech giants (Google, Facebook and Tesla Motors Inc.) and Greek companies. And of course, MKG Group with its founder, Georges Panayotis.
No one seemed to mention the word crisis anymore. Investment is the new key word for the Greeks. Several ministers and deputy ministers, led by Minister of Development and Investments, Adonis Georgiadis, and the Minister of Tourism, Harry Theocharis, took part to talk about Greece finally becoming a focus for investment. Hospitality On was also there. ON the front row. What did we learn about the new era of Greece?
1. Representatives of the new Greek government explained that Greece is now more investor-friendly than ever, aiming to be an ever more attractive investment destination.
2. Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of Development and Investments, was happy to announce, the good news of the day, just to give an example of the new era. Blackstone Real Estate Partners Europe agreed to buy five hotels in Greece (two in Corfu, two in Zakynthos and one in Crete), from Louis Group, in a deal valued at 178.6 million euros.
3. Harry Theocharis, Minister of Tourism, mentioned the “huge increase in the last few years of foreign visitors in Greece, from 15 to 33 million. This was another record. Our strategic goal now is to increase the quality of the Greek product”, Mr Theocharis stressed out.
4. We also heard of sustainability investments in touristic complexes, infrastructure needs, the biggest obstacles, unblocking and unlocking the potential.
5. Another necessity for Greek tourism is to change the time span, and not focus anymore on the three summer months, but invest in thematic tourism, like winter tourism.
6. Greek Government officials were very specific on taking initiatives, destination management, responsiveness to new needs, long-term strategic thinking, digital transformation, education, investing on public properties (such as marinas), following start-ups and new trends, serving tourism, and how to best utilize the Greek ports.
7. Synergies also play part on the agenda in order to attract people with bright ideas on a friendly environment. “And Greece will now move faster than ever”.
8. More than 250 million euros has been invested in Greek startups since 2012.
9. The health and activity of the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is improving after a decade-old debt crisis. Nearly two-thirds of Greeks believe that entrepreneurship is a smart career choice.
10. The new Delphi Economic Forum will be held again, on March 2020, in Delphi. Hopefully by then there will be more projects, more promises, and good news. Where ancient Greece meets the contemporary reality, after the ruins.