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2004 Olympics prompt renewal of EOT sites

The upgrading of Attica`s state-operated marinas, organised beaches and enterprises has been marked the top priority of a 150-billion drachma investment programme for 2000-2001 in the runup to the Athens 2004<.> Olympics

The upgrading of Attica`s state-operated marinas, organised beaches and enterprises has been marked the top priority of a 150-billion drachma investment programme for 2000-2001 in the runup to the Athens 2004<.> Olympics.

Greek Tourist Enterprises (ETA<.>), a holding company established two years ago under the aegis of the development ministry, formulated the package in line with a strategic plan that managing director Anastasios Homenidis last week pointed out has short-, medium- and long-term goals.

ETA has been charged with the responsibility of administrator for the Hellenic Tourism Organisation`s (EOT) extensive list of properties, whose value is estimated at 10 billion drachmas. Some 300 sites have been passed into the hands of the firm, which is still in the process of making an inventory of the assets, many of which are located on prime property throughout Greece.

Among these are 46 hotels, marinas, beaches, the Parnassos ski centre, 11 campsites, spa therapy facilities, two casinos, three caves, restaurants, canteens and kiosks. Homenidis said the cataloguing, which comprises the first phase of activities undertaken by the company, would be completed once financial advisers have been appointed. An initial analysis confirms that the majority of facilities are rundown, outdated, loss-making and problematic in legal terms while it points out that the Parnitha casino is in desperate need of modernisation particularly since it sustained structural damage in the 1999 Athens earthquake.

In emphasising the poor state of these operations, Homenidis pointed to a comparison of marinas in Attica and California, which showed that the Greek facilities offered sailing enthusiasts just three or four services out of a list of at least 15, all of which were provided in the US.

In preparing plans for Vouliagmeni marina, which will be luxuriously appointed, we have held discussions with local enterprises. It should be able to offer top quality hotel facilities to those using the facility… Such investment is a priority for marinas, he said.

Responding to the difficulties inherent in creating more berths to meet a fast-growing demand seen in recent years as sales of recreational craft soar, Homenidis stated that this could be achieved by eliminating a number of problems such as the docking of non-recreational vessels at these marinas.

Attica has 2,300 berths and requires another 1,200 to meet the anticipated requirements of the next decade, he asserted, saying: There has been an explosion of interest in recreational sailing and orders for vessels have multiplied.

In answering a query as to whether the marinas would be privatised, he said there really is no meaning in selling off the facilities to investors.

As for the Parnitha casino, Homenidis stated that an administrative body must be set up to oversee the immediate modernisation of the entire site, encompassing the hotel, while the workforce should be better organised and facilities such as ATMs need to be installed.

Following closely on the heels of Attica redevelopment are plans for similar renewal in other parts of the country including Agii Apostoli on Crete, Afandou on Rhodes, Halkidiki and Thrace.

The prospects are great but the work required will be difficult. There must be a coordinated effort between the tourism industry, the competent ministries, local authorities and the company itself, stated Homenidis, who underlined the close working relationship the firm shares with EOT general secretary Evgenios Yiannakopoulos.

ETA chairman Stephanos Hadzopoulos, who took up the post last Friday, described the company – which he affirmed would apply for listing on the Athens Stock Exchange – as pioneering in terms of its aims to redevelop EOT`s huge cache of assets.

ETA`s role is to propose specialised programmes, he noted. Hadzopoulos referred to a longstanding demand for a sizeable convention centre to be built in the capital. This is a serious matter. When we want to host an international conference in Athens, the question of where to hold it is posed each time. It`s a problem, he said.

The second phase of the strategy will involve detailed evaluation of the properties in order to determine which can be redeveloped while proposals for the actual works are to be submitted in the third and final stage.

Financing of the projects is to come from institutional and private investors, as well as state coffers, Homenidis stated.

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