NEW YORK – Merkourios (Mike) Angeliades’ investment in Afandou, Rhodes, for the creation of a golf resort, became the subject of an article in Reuters. “Cash versus Culture: Tourism Projects Hit in Greece” refers to two large investments in tourist properties, namely that of Greek-American Angeliades who left Rhodes as a teenager to immigrate to the United States in 1960, as well as the investment of Lamda Development at the Hellenikon Airport.
Both parties won their bid in the competition organized by the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) for the exploitation of the state property, but they can not proceed with the projects because the sites have been declared historic, in the case of the Hellenikon, and an archaeological site in the case of the Rhodes property.
Angeliades, told the National Herald, that this project will cost over four hundred million euros and is expected to be completed in four years.
The investment, he said, will change the region’s financial outlook as it will prolong the tourist season in Rhodes because golf is played even in the autumn and attracts quality tourism. At the same time, he noted that new jobs will be created and will make the greatest contribution to the development of Rhodes.
Referring to the Rhodes investment, he said it has a strong emotional character for himself and his family, as it will contribute to the development of the region.
“We did not just invest to make a profit, but to create a remarkable project in Rhodes. But we cannot begin such a great deal with the uncertainty that its proclamation as an archaeological site is creating. We suggested that there should be sections so as to investigate whether there really is ancient subsoil and to cover the costs. Three months ago the government shared our proposal and even pointed out that they would cover these costs. We do, however, expect to implement their decision and their research will determine the outcome of the investment,” Angeliades said.
Referring to the consequences of the three-year delay in implementing the investment, he said that “the driving force behind an investment is enthusiasm, which is triggered by winning a bidding competition such as the TAIPED and starting work. When you are in such situations, enthusiasm is lost.”
Distinguished for his charitable work and philanthropy, Angeliades who is 76 years old told TNH, “Investing in Afandou, Rhodes, is for me a project from my soul and I will not lay down arms.”
According to the Reuters article, archeologists are concerned that development will destroy the places tourists want to see in Greece.
“If we fail to protect our cultural environment as a crown jewel, tourism products that potential investors want to sell will lose their value,” said Stathis Gotsis of the Greek Archaeologists’ Association, as Reuters reported.
“Declaring and demarcating an area as an archaeological site doesn’t mean that you cannot have an investment there. It can go ahead and be well protected and supervised by the archaeological department,” Gotsis told Reuters.