INSPIRE Athens, Greece’s first Integrated Resort and Casino (IRC) to be constructed in Hellinikon, is expected to increase international tourism arrivals to Attica by 10 percent, said Mario Kontomerkos, CEO of US-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE).
MGE and Greece’s GEK TERNA are moving on with their plan to construct INSPIRE Athens at the Hellinikon site, located on the coastal zone south of Athens’ city center.
Speaking during the 22nd Annual Capital Link Forum – Invest in Greece, Kontomerkos referred to the project’s multiple benefits.
“INSPIRE Athens will increase international tourism to Attica by 10 percent… This will generate revenue, which will increase and provide sales and tax proceeds to the Greek state and the people of Greece,” he said.
Kontomerkos added that INSPIRE Athens will further enlarge the meetings and convention activity in Greece, and bring A-list music concerts to Attica.
Furthermore, it will create 7,000 jobs during construction and after its opening.
Hellinikon to become a smart city
Apart from a multi-purpose hub and a tourism attraction, Hellinikon aspires to become one of Greece’s first sustainable “smart cities”.
“We plan to create a ‘smart city’ in Hellinikon that will be equipped with special sensors for traffic and waste management; its homes will utilize the latest means of technology, while special systems will control energy consumption and CO2 emissions,” said Odisseas Athanasiou, Chief Executive Officer of Lamda Development, the selected investor for the multi-billion development project.
Speaking at the Capital Link Forum, Athanasiou said that Lamda Development intends to develop the whole 3,5km coastline of Hellinikon.
The first phase of the project includes tearing down some 900 old buildings and the construction of the IRC, hotels, residences and skyscrapers with offices, among others.
According to Athanasiou, the development of Hellinikon’s coastline will be completed by late 2024 or early 2025. The 5-year project is expected to exceed 2.5 billion euros and includes the 1-billion-euro investment for the construction of the IRC.
Hellinikon to spark investment activity
Being one of the largest investments in Greece, Greek authorities, domestic and foreign investors expect Hellinikon to attract even more foreign direct investment to the country.
On his part, during the Capital Link Forum, Greek Development and Investment Minister Adonis Georgiadis said the country’s authorities were working towards that direction by creating a stable business environment, easing bureaucracy, and improving licensing procedures.
He also referred to the Greek government’s successful efforts to bring large-scale investment projects to Greece in collaboration with Microsoft, Pfizer, Cisco and most recently German electric vehicles company Next.e.GO.
MGE’s Mario Kontomerkos also shared his view of Greece as an attractive destination for tourism investments. During the event, he said that the Hellinikon mega project offered tangible but also intangible benefits:
“We may be able to create an example here [in Hellinikon] and demonstrate a model, which will show other investors around the world that Greece is ready for foreign investments… As this project [IRC] moves on pace and opens on time, I do believe that it will be the spark for billions of future foreign investments in the Attica region and Greece,” he said.
When asked about Mohegan’s future investment plans for Greece, he left all options open:
“Our focus right now is to complete the promise we’ve made to the Greek state and all the stakeholders regarding INSPIRE Athens… On the other hand, there are a lot of reasons to like Greece; its culture of hospitality, natural beauty, climate, workforce, infrastructure… We could never rule out the expansion of our current activities,” he concluded.