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Newsletter December 2011


Region of Crete

The island of Crete is one of Greece’s most extraordinary investment locations, offering a wide spectrum of opportunities.

Widely known as a global tourism destination, Crete also excels in food and beverage production, is endowed with cultural riches, and is becoming one of Greece’s leading knowledge centers, with a vibrant R&D environment.

Located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea, Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, with a population of more than 600,000. It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece.

The Region of Crete includes the Prefectures of Heraklion, Lasithi, Rethymno and Chania . The city of Heraklion is the capital of the Region. Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits (such as its own dialect, poetry, and music). Approximately half of the population lives in Crete's main cities and towns  and half lives in rural areas.

Crete is also one of the most popular holiday destinations in Greece. Tourist attractions include the archaeological sites of the Minoan civilisation, the Venetian old city and port of Chania, the Venetian castle at Rethymno, the gorge of Samaria, the islands of Chrysi, Elafonisi, Gramvousa, and Spinalonga.

The Region produces 4.9% (€13 billion) of the total GNP of Greece. Main economic activities include agriculture and tourism services. As in many other Regions of Greece, production of wine and olive oil is significant. Dairy products are also important to the local economy and the area produces a number of specialty cheeses such as mizithra, anthotiros, and kefalotyri.

The strong economy of Crete is reflected in its export activity:
• 160 enterprises with export activities
• Food and Beverage account for 56% of all exports; the remaining exports include plastics, arts and crafts, organic/natural cosmetics and others
• Main exports include: olive oil, wine, bakery goods, citrus fruit, raisins, herbs, honey
• The Prefecture of Heraklion holds a 77% share of total exports of the island (Jan‐Sep. 2010).

Investment Features
Crete offers an ideal environment for investment with a number of attractive features such as:
• Two large international airports, Nikos Kazantzakis in Heraklion, the Daskalogiannis airport in Chania and a smaller domestic one in Sitia. The first two serve international routes as the main gateways for travelers to the island
• Large ports and hubs, well connected with international and domestic passenger and cargo routes (6 ports in Northern Crete)
• Natural resources of all kinds, excellent climate
• Skilled work force, especially in Tourism and Agriculture
• A unique location, at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and Middle East

Operational Programme 'Crete and the Aegean Islands 2007- 2013 ‘: €564m
New Investment law: Subsidies of up to 45% for business plans
Jessica Holding Fund: €15m
Jeremie fund: €50m

Human Capital
Total workforce: 280,000
Unemployment rate: 11.1%
Employment rate: 63.9%
Employment rate women: 52.4%
Number of Universities—Institutes: 6
International Exhibition Centre: 1
Companies listed on the Athens Stock Exchange: 8
Industry Areas: 6

Cultural and Natural Quick Facts
Significant Archaeological sites: 15
Natura 2000 regions: 55
Blue flag awarded beaches: 98

Investment Incentives Law
Under the new Investment Incentives Law, Crete offers attractive investment incentives, varying from 30% to 40% of the total investment cost, according to the area and the size of the company. The new Law focuses on supporting sustainable investment projects with efficient tax breaks, favorable loans and state aids in selected business activities.

10 Reasons to Invest in Crete
• Crete is located in a key strategic position in Southeastern Europe
• It is a beautiful and attractive place to live and work as it offers visitors, as well as locals, unique life experiences
• It has highly trained, hard working and multilingual labour force
• Investment and entrepreneurship are linked and aided with scientific research and technological development with the support of the local
academic and research institutions
• It offers a plethora of advanced business services to investors (banking, financial, legal, accounting, technical, advisor)
• A pioneer in modern telecommunications infrastructure, very important social infrastructure, such as those in health care, and continuously
improving basic and transport infrastructure
• It is regarded as an internationally prominent, attractive and strongly competitive tourism and cultural destination
• Home of one of the most famous diets in the world, Cretan gastronomy offers a great advantage for investments in agricultural and
food investments
• It is a center of international interest in the energy sector, given its strategic location, huge wind and solar resources, and local experience and expertise. This interest is expected to grow and expand in the coming years
• The consistent and unwavering support of the local Authorities of the Region of Crete, as well as the hospitable and business-friendly people of the island

Leading Investment Sectors
• Tourism (Strong tourism infrastructure, unique competitive advantages, various tourism segments that present opportunity for investment)
• Renewable Energy Sources (current status, unexploited capacity, national targets)
• ICT and Life Sciences (Top notch research takes place in the ICT cluster of Crete, offering highly attractive location opportunities for foreign ICT companies)
• Food & Beverage (Cretan Diet, olive oil sector, wine, dairy products, organic products and off –season vegetables)
• Waste management (EU imposed targets create sound investment opportunities)