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Newsletter April 2012


New Publication—Greek Law Digest 

The Greek Law Digest, The Ultimate Legal Guide to Investing in Greece, has just been released and offers investors around the world a new, comprehensive resource to Greek legislation related to investment.

Investors have a new resource to facilitate the investment process in Greece. "The Greek Law Digest, The Ultimate Legal Guide to Investing in Greece", the most complete and comprehensive English language guide to the regulatory and legal aspects of investing in Greece, was recently published by Nomiki Bibliothiki, the leading legal publishing house in Greece, under the auspices of the Ministry of Development, Competitiveness, and Shipping and Invest in Greece S.A. More than 100 lawyers and legal experts contributed in compiling the work.
The Greek Law Digest will be posted on the websites of state authorities and, of course, the website of Invest in Greece. This will allow the publisher to keep the guide updated according to any changes in legislation or the regulatory framework for investing.
For more information, please visit

Tourist Arrivals Surge in 2011 - Tourist arrivals in Greece for 2011 rose by 8.65 percent against 2010 figures.
According to data released by the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) from the 13 major airports, the number of inbound tourists reached 11,528,782 compared to 10,611,219 in 2010.

All areas of the country except Athens posted increases in arrivals, with Rhodes and Kos showing the largest increases at 22.06 percent and 22.41 percent, respectively. Among other top performing destinations in 2011 were Heraklion (12.59 percent increase), Chania (10.57 percent increase), and Thessaloniki (11.25 percent increase). Athens airport, despite some high points during the season, registered an annual drop of 3.64 percent.

Helping these figures, Greece posted a remarkable increase of 300% to 460% in visitors from Turkey, Israel, Russia, China and Serbia.

The cruise ship industry also contributed sizably to Greece’s tourist draw in 2011. Cruise ship arrivals in Piraeus increased by 13.7%, while cruise ships voyages originating in Piraeus rose by 34.9%.

Greek Cruise Market at Full Throttle
The partial lifting of cabotage, the improvement of tourism infrastructure in the port of Piraeus, and a more flexible pricing policy by the Port Authority of Piraeus (PPA) led to a significant improvement of the performance of the Greek cruise market in 2011.

These are the findings of recent data released by the Piraeus Port Authority. According to the data, 113 more cruise ships and 451,534 more passengers passed through the port of Piraeus in 2011 than in 2010, a sign of strength in Greek marine tourism.

In particular, 936 cruise ships docked in the port of Piraeus in 2011, up 13.73 percent from 823 in 2010. Over the same period, total arrivals and departures of cruise passengers reached 2,515,191, against 1,864,657 in 2010.

Piraeus Port Authority President and CEO, Mr.George Anomeritis, said "the cruise industry is now one of the most important activities of the PPA."
Executives from the cruise market, especially representatives of large multinational companies, point out that if cabotage is fully abolished with a new government bill without unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles and other prohibitions, the number of tourists arriving by cruise ships will increase dramatically.

Mr. Adonis Georgiadis , then Deputy Minister of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, predicts "miracles" and a dominant role in the global cruise industry for Greece in the coming years. Once cabotage is removed, Mr. Georgiadis estimates a GDP increase of 2-3 billion Euros with cruise arrivals reaching an average rate of 4,000 per day.

The Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr.George Nikitiadis, noted that the Royal Caribbean cruise line alone could carry a total of 750,000 passengers to Heraklion over the next three years once cabotage is fully abolished.

Eurobank Finds Property Prices and Real Estate Activity Declined Amid Economic Downturn
A 3Q11 study by Eurobank found that prices of urban dwellings have fallen 14 percent since their record high in 3Q08. However, the figures also show that new apartments (less than five years old) have held value better than old apartments, declining just 10.4 percent. By contrast, older apartments have declined in value by an average of 15.8 percent.

The study also shows a regional influence on housing prices. Apartments in Athens, for example, have lost an average of 14.1 percent of their value, while those in Thessaloniki have lost 21.5 percent. Houses in other Greek cities have declined an average of 13.5 percent over the same period.

Despite the decline in housing prices, residential rents have continued to increase. The Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) found that rents increased 4.3 percent in 2008, 4.1 percent in 2009, 2.3 percent in 2010 and 1.0 percent in the first ten months of 2011. Commercial rents, on the other hand, have fallen significantly.

Eurobank also looked at the effect of the crisis on the construction industry and found that building permits for new private constructions had fallen 31.9 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of 2011. In addition, the research highlights that investments in construction continued to decline through the first half of 2011, falling 21 percent for residential properties and 16.3 percent for non-residential.

The report also flagged a declining trend in residential property activity. Total residential transactions in 3Q11 fell to approximately 9,000, down sharply from 39,700 in 1Q07.

Despite the crisis, however, construction costs continued to increase in both 2010 (1.8 percent) and 2011 (1.2% over the first three quarters, year-on-year). However, despite rising construction prices, labour costs stabilised in 2010 and decreased by 1.2 percent in 2011.