The land use question once again was the focus of a meeting last month of the governmental committee handling Greece’s tourism sector. Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias vowed to table legislation on land use and the designation of new areas for tourism development.
Tourism professionals said that it was quite apparent that government needs to come up with a legal framework soon, particularly for areas that are not included in the tourism development zone.
Although entrepreneurs have shown keen interest in some areas, their investment plans have stalled because the status of land remains unspecified, they said. “Naturally, entrepreneurs are put off by the risk of making an investment that could later be found to be illegal.”
The tourism professionals said that the uncertainty discourages investment in areas that are dogged by reactions from the local communities -regardless of whether these are grounded or not- but also in places where the local population has given the go-ahead for development plans.
And added that the vague land status deprives the local economies of job opportunities and profits. Ironically, although reactions are mostly expressed for the sake of environmental protection, the environment is one of the main losers.
The government is aware of the problem; indeed it was raised during a high-level meeting about a month ago. Tourism professionals said they had expected that the meeting last month would go a step further than assigning Mr. Souflias to consider the issue and would actually adopt some initial measures.