The tourism development of the Hellinikon area on the Athenian Riviera can place Athens in the “center of the world” as a prime leisure and business destination, according to Mario Kontomerkos, CEO of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE), a leading developer of Integrated Resort Casinos (IRC), based in Connecticut, USA.
“Athens has the chance to become the center of the IRC world because with a two-hour flight it is connected to 19 countries with 6 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the global GDP,” Kontomerkos said during a panel discussion at the Delphi Economic Forum 2019, which was held in Delphi earlier this month.
The 8-billion euro Hellenikon project aims to develop Athens’ former airport complex into a multi-purpose hub complete with a metropolitan park, shops, offices, sports and conference facilities, luxury hotels, theme parks, museums, malls, cultural venues, health centers, educational and research facilities, and a marina.
MGE is reportedly among the international companies interested in the project, which also includes the creation of an IRC.
“Athens has an unprecedented opportunity to create an integrated resort destination, where only 5 percent of the floor area will be a casino, and the other 95 percent non-gaming facilities, with sites and amenities that can attract 5-10 million people,” Kontomerkos added.
Athenian Riviera: An opportunity for investment
Apart from Hellinikon, there are currently many tourism and real estate projects underway on the so-called Athenian Riviera, the coastal area stretching from the southern suburb of Faliro to Cape Sounion.
According to Astir Palace Vouliagmenis CEO Stelios Koutsivitis, the investment projects expected to be carried out in the area within the next few years, can place Athens in the world map as a city and leisure destination.
Among these is the Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens, which has been fully renovated and is expected to open its doors in the next few weeks.
“Our aim is to create a world-class destination for the wider Mediterranean region, and place the Athenian Riviera at the center of the global luxury tourism industry,” Koutsivitis said during the Delphi Forum.
The 300-room luxury resort located in Vouliagmeni, just 25km south of Athens and 24km from Athens International Airport, is stretched across 30 hectares (75 acres) of green space, and includes upscale retail and dining options; a unique seaside concept; the Astir Marina and high-end seafront residences.