Why Greece is witnessing an investment boom – Q&A with Georgios Filiopoulos

Divani-Apollon-Palace-Athens-Greece-Simon-Callaghan-Photography
Divani Apollon Palace, Athens, Greece - Simon Callaghan Photography

Greece's economy relies heavily on tourism and now that travel is coming back, so are opportunities for investors. Georgios Filiopoulos, CEO of Greece’s investment and export promotion authority Enterprise Greece explains why the market ticks all the boxes for the growing leisure hospitality segment.

Hospitality Insights: After two summers affected by the uncertainty of the pandemic, how is Greece’s economy looking?

Georgios Filiopoulos: Greece’s economy is rebounding from the pandemic much faster than expected and is on track to post one of the strongest growth rates in Europe. For this year, the Greek government foresees GDP growth of 6.1%, but many forecasters – including the Bank of Greece – expect growth to be even higher.

The prospects are bright. This year, despite the pandemic, Greece was one of the Top 3 tourism destinations in Europe and continued to attract major foreign investment in the tourism and hospitality sector, among others. Next year, Greece’s economy is expected to grow by 4.5% supported by 23.4% rise in investment. Overall, the Greek economy is performing well and the country is witnessing an investment boom.

Hospitality Insights: What makes leisure hospitality, and resorts in particular, a strong investment opportunity?

Filiopoulos: Despite the pandemic, Greece remains one of the world’s top tourism destinations thanks to its mild Mediterranean climate, its rich cultural heritage and its breathtaking natural beauty. Today the tourism sector, along with real estate, represents almost half of total foreign direct investment in Greece, with the hospitality sector being one of the main draws for investors interested in the Greek real estate market. According to a recent survey released by Tranio, a real estate investment platform, Greece is among the countries that are expected to see the swiftest recovery in their hotel markets. That shows the enduring quality of the Greek tourism brand.

Greece offers many exciting opportunities in tourism ranging from luxury resort development to specialized tourism products like gastronomy, culture and wellness. The Greek government actively supports investors with financing and tax incentives and is particularly keen to develop Greek tourism in new areas. That includes projects in non-traditional destinations, in new tourism categories, such as medical tourism or MICE tourism, and in tapping new source markets or new demographic segments.

Hospitality Insights: What travel and hospitality trends will have the biggest impact on resort investment in Greece?

Filiopoulos: Looking beyond the coronavirus pandemic, there are several trends I see that will shape hospitality investment in Greece and other destinations going forward.

One of those is longer stays. This can be remote workers temporarily relocating − an extension of the ‘bleisure’ trend of combining business and leisure on trips – or digital nomads, or seniors interested in having a holiday home. Longer stays mean, among other things, increased demand for serviced apartments, which are being added by many hotels.

Likewise, in Greece, luxury homes have also been attracting significant investment interest, with the demand for permanent holiday homes, despite the pandemic, increasing by 30%, according to a recent report by Cerved Property Services.

Another area is in the luxury segment. Only 22% of Greece’s total hotel capacity is in the 4- and 5-star categories and the number of branded hotels is still relatively low compared with other destinations. The opportunities that the country offers are significant.

Finally, Greece is working to expand its tourist season and the appeal of non-traditional destinations through various initiatives. That is already bearing fruit and we are seeing the investor response in the rising number of resort projects taking place.

Hospitality Insights: What are you looking forward to with regards to your participation to R&R?

Filiopoulos: Enterprise Greece is a regular participant in high value, impactful events like R&R.

This year in particular – following a very difficult period for the world -- we are excited about reconnecting with our peers, getting deals moving again, and hearing from leaders in the hospitality sector about the outlook for the industry.

We are also excited to be co-hosting the destination Roundtable for investing in Greece, which will give us the opportunity to highlight Greece’s latest developments and future prospects. Please join us.

Enterprise Greece will be at the Resort & Residential Hospitality Forum (R&R), taking place in the Algarve on 25-27 October.