INVESTMENT IN THE HELLENIC HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Introduction: The improving macroeconomic environment in Greece in combination with the handling of the COVID crisis by the government so far has created a favorable investment climate for the Hellenic hospitality sector. Barring any black swan events, Greece should expect a significant increase in investment activity in the hospitality sector.
Case: Every economic crisis brings opportunities. However, as any good recipe needs the right ingredients, so do investors require the right mix of market conditions and public policy to strike. Greece has the right blend of public economic policy, tourism brand equity, responsible COVID response and sustainable investment opportunities emerging from the crisis to attract institutional investment capital.
Public Economic Policy: Following the pandemic setback, the Greek government is now finally beginning to set up the business-friendly policy it ran on in the 2019 elections. Corporate tax and taxes related to the employment of labor are being reduced, allowing investors to deploy more capital and underwrite better returns. At the same time, the digitalization of infamous Greek red tape and the improvement of permitting and licensing process through streamlining of cadastral and forestry maps has created an improved investment environment. The improving economic condition is amplified by the recent issuance of a 30-year Greek bond (the first since the ’08 crisis) at an attractive, sub 2% interest rate, demonstrating the markets’ confidence in the Greek economy.
Tourism Brand Equity: Greece has consistently scored very high on the tourism competitive index, scoring high in major contemporary hot topics such as “Health and Hygiene” and “Environmental Sustainability”. Successful campaigns such as “Live your Dream in Greece” and the continuous growth of airlift into the country has established Greece as a premier travel and tourism destination over the last two decades, especially following the 2004 Olympics. Infrastructure improvements such as the renovation of 14 regional airports further bolster the country’s image, providing the quality infrastructure that Greece’s major tourism markets deserve.
Responsible COVID Response: Greece’s initial COVID response was clearly the right one not only in March at the beginning of the pandemic, but even more so during the summer months when tourism had to be kickstarted safely, with appropriate and clearly communicated travel protocols. Despite the dismal year the entire Med witnessed, Greece managed to secure their piece of the tourism pie while setting the stage for a 2021 season.
This year, Greece can hopefully guarantee to tourists, summer holidays up to the standards of a modern world which perceives them more as a human right than a luxury.
Sustainable Business Opportunities: Greece has the longest coastline in the Med and the third longest in Eurasia, featuring a wide range of destinations from commercial coastlines to pristine beaches far from civilization. Opportunities to develop environmentally sustainable touristic resorts are countless. Doing so is practically also more attractive in Greece as guestrooms can be built closer to the beach than in any other Med destination. With over 20 island airports and countless seaway connections, access to the coast and nature is easy for all travelers.
Conclusion: Greece is well-positioned to lead the post-covid race to recovery. We expect a significant increase in investment activity in the Greek tourism sector, specifically focused on touristic resorts with a strong environmental sustainability program. Investor appetite has already been demonstrated in the last years before the pandemic and we are already witnessing a growing list of institutional players looking for direct, JV and lending opportunities across the resort spectrum.
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