Hellenic Tourism Properties handed over some two billion drachmas to the Hellenic Tourism Organization (EOT) recently as the first payment for the organization’s tourism advertising campaigns abroad, which covers the majority of debt owed for same. As well, it’s now official: Parliament has just passed legislation whereby Greek casinos at Mont Parnes and Corfu will pay 30% of revenue directly to the organization to fund promotional campaigns abroad, and the Greek Festival.
Initial estimates of revenue from the casinos for tourism promotion next year reach eight billion drachmas. Much more is expected in the years to come as the profitability of the two casinos is expected to increase substantially. The Mont Parnes unit is expected to almost double its profits from the 13.7 billion drachmas posted last year to about 23 billion this year and as much as 60 billion by 2004.
In the meantime, the development ministry has gone ahead with plans on the partial privatization of the two casino units – between 30 and 49% ownership and full management to a strategic investor. The remaining percentage will be sold on the Athens stock exchange with Hellenic Tourism Properties holding a good number of shares.
Concerning the strategic investor, talks have been held with representatives from casino companies in France, the USA, North Africa, England and Holland, as well as local casino owners. The government will call for expressions of interest by the first of this month.
Tassos Homenides, managing director of Hellenic Tourism Properties, said discussions held thus far showed there was intense interest in the Mont Parnes property now that government has declared no other casino license will be issued for the Athens area.
Meanwhile, both the casinos at Mont Parnes and on Corfu are currently being reorganized and upgraded by Hellenic Tourism Properties, the Hellenic Tourism Organization’s asset-management arm, which was given control of the units last August. The hotel and casino complex at Mont Parnes has a budget of at least 20 billion drachmas to upgrade its facilities, including its cable car system.
To changeover to “societes anonymes,” or a stockholding company, the two Mont Parnes unit paid 5.5 billion drachmas to the finance ministry for its license and was renamed last month Casino Resort Mont Parnes.
In a recent interview, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said that the government aims to sell the company to a strategic buyer, “one that will assume the management and take the company to bourse entry through a public subscription offer some time in 2002.”
He added that the privatization of the company Casino Resort Mont Parnes allows for an upgrade of its two hotels of 433 rooms, the rebuild of the helicopter airport, and major renovations on the “teleferik.”