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Greece ponders land zoning laws to promote tourism

4 May, 2007

Greece has proposed to introduce land zoning regulations which could lead to the construction of leisure and retirement villages in order to attract greater investment to the country’s tourism sector.

Greece’s Ministry of Environment has announced a 10-point proposal that outlines what facilities can be built in each district, with to view to getting rid of ‘gray’ areas that have been stuck in bureaucratic red-tape.

The Environment Ministry’s proposal is expected to pave the way for the construction of new tourism projects in leisure fields that focus on different sectors such as sports and cultural activities.

The proposed project aims to improve the competitiveness of tourism, protect and secure natural resources, and form a more accurate legal framework for land-planning purposes, according to Greece’s Minister for Environment Giorgos Souflias.

Among the changes put forth in the proposal is allowing construction of facilities in uninhabited areas and also construction of dwellings 50 metres from the shore in some parts of the Greece.

The Greek government’s proposal is based on a similar model introduced in Spain.

Environment Minister Giorgos Souflias says that about 1 million Europeans are interested in acquiring a second residence in Greece. Spain has 1 million such homes.

Industry experts have often blamed Greece’s insufficient legal framework as a deterrent to large-scale investments in the tourism sector.

Experts in Greece are divided over the Environment Ministry’s proposal.

Opponents of the plan say that the Spanish model had resulted in the overdevelopment of coastal areas and the exhaustion of natural resources without any consideration of their long-term use.

Supporters of the proposal insist that the project will help transform Greece’s crucial tourism industry and offer more attractive investment potential.

Stavros Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises, has described the government’s plan as being positive as it encourages the development of alternative forms of tourism. It is also the first time, says Andreadis, that a plan refers to government obligations in terms of the ports and other infrastructure projects that need to be provided.




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