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Luxury mega-resort for Ithaka

- by Dabs Banner

A luxury holiday complex on the island of Ithaka is one of five major projects waiting for the green light from the incoming Greek government.

The multi-million-euro tourism scheme are for the islands of Ithaka, Chios and Crete with two more on the Greek mainland.

Developers hope to get the go-ahead this year under the Greek 'Fast Track' law, which can speed up licensing procedures for private-public investments.

But it is not certain that the new left-wing Greek government will look favourably on the projects after ministers recently called a halt to plans to privatise around a dozen Greek Island airports.

Investors behind the latest schemes say they are 'concerned' at delays over a final decision on the projects from the Greek Ministerial Committee for Strategic Investments (DESE).

Among the tourism projects under review are multi-million-euro plans to build a tourist resort and golf course on the small island of Ithaka, which lies off the east coast of Kefalonia in the Ionian Sea.

A popular haunt for Greek Island holiday visitors, Ithaka could be in line for a mega luxury resort off its southern shore that could include six five-star hotels, more than a thousand apartments, a marina to hold 200 yachts, a golf course and even a waterfront village.

Around 525 hectares of land have already been acquired for the Ithaka holiday complex, making it one of the largest private island land holdings in the whole of Greece.

The proposed site takes in 7.5 kilometres of pristine coastline and several natural deep water coves that could be developed as yacht harbours.

The Australian company Interportfolio wants to build ten exclusive boutique resorts and residential villages with an 18-hole golf course designed by golfer Greg Norman.

The scheme also includes luxury spas, a yacht marina and marina village, a soccer academy and a retail and conference centre.

As well as several remote beaches and bays that lie along the Ithaka island coast, the company has also acquired an offshore islet.

Developers are even considering plans to build an airport nearby to take private jets. If permission is granted it will be the first privately run, jet airport in the whole of Greece and could open up access to the huge global private jet owner market.

Currently, private jet owners are not allowed to land on Greek Island airports and pilots must 'park up' at Athens International and make their way to the islands by boat.

The company's prospectus says of the Ithaka project: "The Ionian Islands have the reputation for luxury tourism, and are home to mega and super yachts, and sailing boats, for the summer season."

"The area's climate is Mediterranean in character and ideal for outdoor recreation. Close to Italy, and serviced by an international airport on the adjacent island of Kefalonia, the site enjoys easy access to all European markets."

It is not the only mega million tourist scheme to await the green light from the Greek government. With a budget of €123 million, Sportsland SA want the go-ahead to build a holiday village, hotels, golf course, sports centre and conference facilities in Viotia, some 75 kilometres from km from Athens.

Property giant Kerameia SA is also planning to invest €150 million euros on the island of Chios in the north-east Aegean with a luxury five-star 700-room holiday hotel.

Other major investment schemes awaiting approval are a € 384 million solar power plant in central Greece and a €500 million oil storage terminal in southern Crete.