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Greek Islands set to go on sale

Agios Athanasios island for sale

Behind the recent sell-off of state-run Greek airports to private consortia are plans to dispose of up to 500 Greek Islands, according to press reports.

Some commentators are claiming that Greece now has plans to sell more than 70,000 state-owned properties in efforts to boost state coffers.

Included in the list of assets that could go under the hammer are major tourism draws like some of the more remote Greek islands, beaches, ports, marinas, spas, hotels and campsites.

The asset disposal is being organised by the newly created Hellenic Holdings and Property Company (EESP), which is responsible for facilitating the sale of state property and public corporations.

If the sell-off of state-owned assets is successful, it could bring in as much as €6 billion by 2018 and relieve pressure on the struggling Greek economy.

But it could also mean holidaymakers to Greece finding themselves bathing on a private German-owned beach instead of a public Greek beach, or mooring their boat in an Italian-owned marina.

Full details of real estate sell-off will not be known for several months but few believe it will not be substantial. The left-wing Greek government is under immense pressure to pay off its creditors even while remains dependent on international debt relief bailouts.

The EESP is drawing up a list of state-owned beaches, islands, boutique hotels, golf courses, Olympic venues and historic properties in order to raise money and the organisation is under immense pressure to offload as much as possible.

It comes in the wake of the recent agreement with the IMF and Europe to release an extra €10.3 billion in bailout loans in exchange for further reforms aimed at boosting the country's economy.

Ownership of more than 70,000 pieces of state-owned property is expected to be transferred to the EESP as part of which is turning out to be the biggest privatisation programme in the whole of Europe.

Greeks have reacted with understandable anger at the plans which many argue is another attack on their country by international creditors in moves that keep Greece anchored to the Eurozone.

Government opposition parties claim the proposed asset sale effectively mortgages the country's assets for generations without any guarantee of dealing with Greece's €320 billion debt.

After first opposing the sale of the country's two main ports in Piraeus and Thessaloniki the left-wing government finally approved a takeover bid by the Chinese shipping giant Cosco.

German transport giant Fraport has also won rights to operate 14 Greek island airports including those on popular tourist destinations such as Mykonos, Santorini and Corfu.

It remains to be seen how many more of the country's assets will go under the hammer especially the most lucrative assets of all — those which bring in millions of tourists each year for their Greek Island holidays.

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