The government clearly remains fixated on the idea of promoting the construction of vast complexes over supporting small and medium sized businesses in the tourism sector as is evidenced by the new bill which places great emphasis on large developments while largely ignoring the eco and agro tourism sectors.
The newly defined ‘composite tourism developments’ must necessarily include a 5 star luxury hotel and special tourist facilities such as golf courses, conference centers, marinas, health spas) and furnished condominiums for sale or long-term rent and other facilities. The draft legislation would allow the condominiums to be sold or rented prior to their construction in order to facilitate funding of the large projects. It will also greatly accelerate the licensing process with operating licenses to be issued within 50 days of the initial application by law.
An indication of what these will look like is provided by plans for just such a development by the company Smenter Limited on a roughly 600 acre site on the island of Ithaca. The development in question is at a relatively mature stage having commenced about a decade ago. With the new bill the Tourism Ministry is seeking to drastically reducing the time required for licensing such developments.
Opposition MPs criticised the bills focus on large investments at the expense of small businesses, domestic tourism and agro-tourism.
Responding to the criticism Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni blamed the Agriculture Ministry for the lack saying, “Unfortunately there wasn’t the necessary support from the Ministry of Agricultural Development in order to include agro-tourism in the bill, at least at this point.”