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Newsletter July 2013

REGIONAL GREECE

Western Greece—Untapped Potential

Untapped potential and unspoiled beauty make Western Greece one of the most attractive investment destinations in the country.

Comprising the western part of continental Greece and the northwestern part of the Peloponnese, Western Greece’s strategic location makes it the gateway to the Adriatic Sea and Western Europe.

Covering 11,350 km2, Western Greece accounts for approximately 8.6% of Greece’s total area and 6.7% of the country’s total population.

From the jagged peaks of Mt. Aroania (2,335m) to the winding banks of the Acheloos River (Greece’s second longest) to pristine Ionian beaches, Western Greece plays host to some of the most beautiful vistas and diverse ecosystems in Greece. Not surprisingly, Western Greece is one of Greece’s leading regions in tourism and agriculture.

A Tourist Paradise

As a tourist destination, Western Greece offers something for everyone.

For sun and sea seekers, the region boasts long, unexploited beaches—10 of which have earned the coveted Blue Flag international distinctions for purity and beauty.

For nature enthusiasts, Western Greece’s 11 Ramsar protected areas—including Mesolonghi Lagoon, Amvrakikos Bay, and the Echinades Islands complex—offer the ability to get away and immerse oneself in the natural surroundings.

And for culture lovers, Ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympics and one of Greece’s most popular destinations, provides a real life journey into one of Greece’s greatest cultural legacies.

From its ports—including the main cruise ship port of Katakolo and the new Southern passenger port in Patras—to its highways, Western Greece is also served by a modern and efficient infrastructure that helps seamlessly facilitate tourist arrivals and transit.

Yet despite its strong growth in recent years, Western Greece’s tourism sector still offers vast opportunities for investors.

The lack of 5-star accommodations and conference facilities in certain areas, for example, creates demand for high-end development projects. And the high number of environmentally protected areas reflects the potential for eco-tourism projects.

Several high profile state assets, too, are ready for touristic development—including an adjacent plot of land to the Rio-Antirio Bridge and the Kaiafa Thermal Spa.

To this end, Invest in Greece Agency maintains a portfolio of turn-key investment projects for tourism in Western Greece, including:

• Land plots that could be used for tourism development
• Mixed-use tourism projects under development
• Tourism facilities for sale or looking for co-investors

Whatever the project, Western Greece’s tourism sector is one of the most promising and dynamic in Greece today.

A Tradition of Agriculture

The geography and climate of Western Greece make it an ideal agricultural zone.

As in many regions of the country, the production of wine and olive oil in Western Greece is a significant driver of the local economy. Currently, Western Greece produces 35,000-40,000 tons of olive oil per year, much of it premium oil for export. At the same time, the region’s vineyards produce 232,000 hl of wine annually—including many world-renowned varietals like Mavrodafni.

Each year, Western Greece produces hundreds of thousands of tons of traditional crops, including citrus, watermelons, strawberries and potatoes. In recent years, however, the region has diversified into more innovative and traditional crops. For example, in the last decade, the production of kiwis has soared from almost nothing to 5,000 tons per year.

Dairy products are also important to the local economy, and recent dairy investments in the area of Patras (including the new Friesland Campina Unit) have drastically boosted local dairy production, and highlighted opportunities for potential investors.

Western Greece is also famous for its fish farming and produces 12.5% of all bream and sea bass produced in the EU. A recently introduced law liberalises the fish farming industry and offers unique opportunities in this flagship industry.

Renewable Energy and Waste Management

As the demand for renewable energy sources (RES) and sustainable waste management increases, in line with the European Union’s binding 2020 targets, Western Greece will play an important role in Greece’s green future.

Western Greece has bountiful potential in both solar and wind energy, which has been largely unexploited to date. Heavy investment will be needed to tap into this potential—which will play the largest role in Greece’s 2020 RES energy mix.

At the same time, 2020 targets stipulate that Greece must dramatically reduce the volume of waste and promote re-use, recycling and other material recovery to a high degree. To that end, over the next five years, Western Greece will need substantial investments in:

• Modern, integrated facilities for treating and disposing municipal solid waste
• Selective collection at source and further recycling of municipal waste
• Construction of suitable transfer station networks and recycling centres
• Environmentally sound management of industrial, medical and hazardous waste
• Rehabilitation of existing landfills
• Energy recovery from organic waste
• Water treatment and sea or brackish water desalination
• Wastewater and sewage treatment

Already, funds of 60 million Euro have been allocated to the region for the development of waste management units in the next three to five years. 

Infrastructure, Institutions, Intelligence

Western Greece’s robust transport network—which features a major new port in Patras, the commercial port in Platygiali Astakos, new highway arteries and the landmark Rio-Antirio Bridge—lets companies use Western Greece as a hub for Greece and Western Europe.

And a long list of highway and port expansion projects currently underway, in line with the regional development programme (2007-2013), will ensure that Western Greece retains its competitive advantage in infrastructure for years to come.

But in addition to its transportation network, Western Greece hosts an array of supportive infrastructure and institutions that help locally based companies establish themselves, manufacture, export, and innovate.

The VI.PE of Patras organised industrial area and the Glaukou of Patras (VIO.PA) industrial park, for example, are both designed to support companies’ manufacturing activities.

The Patras Science Park (PSP), one of the country’s most successful clusters, has been supporting start-ups in the region for the last fifteen years by assembling a critical mass of researchers, business leaders, and onsite technology. PSP currently plays host to 150 research staff and 22 companies—including several internationally known high-tech brands.

And the nearby Institute of Chemical Engineering and High Temperature Chemical Processes conducts applied and technological research in partnership with industrial enterprises, universities and research institutes from all over the world.

Incentives

Under the current Investment Incentives Law, Western Greece enjoys attractive incentives varying from 40% to 50% of the total investmet cost, according to the area and the size of the company. An extra 5% will be granted to enterprises that are established in industrial areas or innovation zones.

The new law focuses on supporting sustainable investment projects with efficient tax breaks, favourable loans and state aid in selected business activities.

The time has never been better to invest in Western Greece. Contact Invest in Greece to find out how.