Friday, 11 January 2019

Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum 2018


Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum 2018

Athens, 26 October 2018| The Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum (MR&H) took place in Athens, for the first time, on 17-19 October 2018. MR&H is the most important Forum for investment in tourism and real estate in the Mediterranean, and during the Forum major deals are finalized each year. Numerous international investors, developers, hoteliers, international chains, and professionals working in the field participated in a full program of talks and networking events. The Forum is hosted by the U.S. QUESTEX Hospitality Group as part of a series of well-known investment forums in Europe, Asia and the U.S. This year, about 400 senior business executives and investors from 35 countries, with funds under management of more than half a trillion dollars, participated in MR&H.

Enterprise Greece was instrumental in bringing this event to Greece for the first time and therefore participated as a national sponsor of the Forum with a specially designed booth, presenting Greece's investment potential in tourism and especially in hotels and tourist resorts.

Speakers at the Forum were high-ranking representatives of international hotel chains and funds, who had the opportunity to analyze and highlight the exceptional prospects for the development of the Mediterranean and Greece in particular. Among them were: Christian Giraud, Accor Hotels SVP Development Europe; Henderson Park Principal Neil Kirk; Tina Yu, Senior Vice President of KSL Capital Partners; Geoff Ballotti, President & CEO of Wyndham Hotel Group; Gregory Lanter, Chief Development Officer and Construction Officer of Club Med; Seelye Arms, Vice President, Starwood Capital Group.

Minister of Tourism, Elena Kountoura, opened the second day of the Forum and stressed that, "Greece today is the most attractive opportunity in the Mediterranean and Europe for hotel and tourist investment, for the development of new resorts and tourist real estate. As a result of our unprecedented tourism performance and the ever-rising visitor numbers we have achieved, combined with our dynamic campaign to promote Greece as an attractive tourist destination 365 days a year, we have received more than 350 investment plans in 4- and 5-star hotels and resorts of over 300 beds in the past three years. At our invitation, top foreign companies are exploring new beneficial opportunities and launching major projects either to enter the Greek tourism market or expand their portfolios. We have created a more attractive and entrepreneur-friendly framework, with simplification of licensing, less bureaucracy and fast-track procedures, and facilitating investors at all stages of completing their investment."

Enterprise Greece coordinated a roundtable dedicated to Greece, involving around 50 investors, representatives of international chains and developers interested in assessing the country's investment potential. At the roundtable were George Kormas, CEO, Piraeus Real Estate; Xenophon Petropoulos, Director, Horwath HTL Greece; Manolis Sigalas, Vice President & Managing Director, Southern Europe, Hill International; and George Tziallas, Secretary General of Tourism Policy and Development at the Ministry of Tourism.

During the round table, Angela Michalopoulou, Director General for Investments at Enterprise Greece, referred to the improved economic climate in the country. She also highlighted the unparalleled momentum in tourism, as well as the country's obvious investment opportunities in a sector of critical importance to the Greek economy. The large number of projects already underway or to be undertaken in major infrastructure projects, contribute to the overall upgrading of the country as an investment destination. Finally, she referred to the possibilities of exploiting the successful Greek Golden Visa Program. Other roundtable participants focused on growing tourism dynamics, on extending the tourist season, attracting higher income tourists, increasing average daily spending, and opening up new tourist markets. They also referred to the possibilities and ways of exploiting real estate offered through private banks, the opportunities for Greek and foreign co-operation, as well as the great mobility in tourism investment.

During the Forum, Enterprise Greece executives held 55 individual meetings with executives from Spain, France, Russia, the U.S., the UK and China, to present the investment opportunities offered by Greece in the tourism and real estate sectors, as well as the matchmaking services between foreign and Greek companies offered by Enterprise Greece. Particular interest was shown during the meetings on investment opportunities in the luxury hotel segment and in serviced apartments; while the major international hotel chains were seeking local partnerships in order to enter the Greek market in the immediate future.

By hosting the Forum in Greece, the country was able to attract an important and influential audience and highlight the positive trends in tourism development.

Grigoris Stergioulis, Chairman and CEO of Enterprise Greece, said: "It was only natural that MR&H, a top-notch organization that has established the only conference in the Mediterranean focusing on investment in resorts, hotels and complex tourist accommodation, had to come to Greece. It is obvious that the country, with an unparalleled dynamism in its tourism, is thirsty for such high-level events, both to raise its visibility and to put it on the radar screen of investors. The Greek business community has shown itself to be at the forefront of developments, and is wiser, more discriminating and open to dynamic partnerships that will make a significant contribution to the recovery of our country's economy.''

Mr. Alexi Khajavi, Managing Director, EMEA Hospitality + Travel Group, Questex said: "The Mediterranean continues to provide real value to investors in the tourism and real estate sector and this was evident in all the Forum sessions and talks held last week in Athens. We have created a strong organization that brings together a wide range of stakeholders involved in this industry and I am excited about the outcome. A common point, which was repeatedly mentioned last week, was the rise of the middle class, which, on a global scale, has increasing amounts of disposable income. Travel and tourism play a key role for this consumer group and hold their continued interest."

Dimitris Manikis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts EMEA, said: "With lively cities, inspired by the arts, magical recreational destinations with rich culture, the Mediterranean region is a treasure of exciting destinations. We are delighted to have such a strong and growing presence in the Mediterranean and look forward to our continued growth in the region. We are excited to have attended this year's Mediterranean Resort & Hotel Real Estate Forum in Athens. The event was an excellent opportunity for meetings and exchanges of ideas with colleagues and friends for the promising Mediterranean market."