30 April 2012

Just another day at the office

With the UK apparently drowning in torrential rain whilst still under a hosepipe ban, I spent a happy afternoon yesterday working really hard showing a plot of land to a client. Which of course also involved showing the surrounding area - in this case Agios Gordis and Pentati, with small clear bays, a tiny harbour and the view above which is just your average everyday Corfu view.

It rather makes you wonder about the UK TV ad encouraging people to stay in England for their precious annual holidays and the slogan 'You won't find this in Corfu or Crete'. This photo is a sample of what you WILL find!

We certainly have our problems here, but yesterday was one of those days when I absolutely wouldn't want to be anywhere else and fortunately - this year particularly - an increasing number of people seem to feel the same.

27 April 2012

A positive move at last?

IF this is true, does it mean that someone is actually listening, and has realised the overwhelming importance of tourism in Greece, and understood how much difference it can make - and that we are no longer in the 1970s when Greece was at its tourism peak? We live in hope.

From a newspaper article.......

ATHENS, APRIL 26 - As part of efforts to restore Greece's disastrous state accounts to health, the country's Parliament a few days ago ratified the creation of a company that states that its sole objective is to promote tourism in Greece, both with foreign and national audiences.

The first stage in the company's development will see the opening of five public relations offices in the UK, Germany, France, Russia and the United States. These offices will be followed by another five in countries considered of particular significance to Greece's tourism market. A website in 10 different languages will also be created, providing all sorts of information to potential visitors.

The Greek National Tourism Organisation (OTE) will maintain responsibility for the organisation of traditional advertising campaigns (such as those in outdoor spaces) and will continue to oversee Greece's participation in international fairs and exhibitions.  (possibly not such good news in view of their past, fairly useless track record)

In the near future, strategists at Marketing Greece say, utmost priority will be given to issues such as the rise in the number of Schengen visas granted by Greek consulates abroad and the downscaling of VAT rates on tourism sector products. As far as Schengen area visas are concerned, Andreadis estimated that Greece loses between 3 and 5 million tourists every year because of the procedure of issuing permits to enter the country, which he says is overly bureaucratic and results in a loss of revenue for Greece's tourism business of 3-5 billion euros every year.

The chair of SETE also said that an increase of 3 million visitors would lead to the immediate creation of around 60,000 jobs in the country. Citing figures in a report produced by an international consultancy company on behalf of the UK, Andreadis underlined that all countries that have reduced the total of VAT on tourism packages have been repaid by a significant rise in revenue

The next step would be to change the illogical and onerous EOT requirements for rental licences to encourage independent tourism and investment, and we might be getting somewhere!

23 April 2012

Here Comes The Sun - and about time too!

What a wet, cold and miserable month April has been up to now. Today, however, I think we can say confidently that summer is on the way. We have the swallows swooping between the olive trees, we have fire-flies, we have jasmine scenting the hillside, orange blossom and wisteria, and we have SUNSHINE! Hurray.

12 April 2012

Strong pound! The right time to buy?

We have just received the following report from our friend at Foreign Currency Direct which might be of interest to anyone wondering whether now is the time to take the plunge and buy in Greece.

Brief Overview Of Currency Trends

I thought I would update you all with some guidance on major currencies should you have an upcoming transaction to make.

GBP – Sterling has rallied against most currencies compared to levels seen earlier this year with notable consolidations against the Aussie and USD as well as closing in on an 18 month high against the Euro! Analyst are now suggesting that the UK will avoid a double dip recession by posting modest growth in the latest quarter despite growth figures for last year being revised down. The official growth figures aren’t posted until 25th April so it remains to be seen whether recession is actually off the cards. Sterling can be pretty much summed up on the basis that whilst things are bad, “they aren’t as bad as they could have been” and as a result the pound has strengthened however until the UK economy starts growing strongly and interest rates go up, which could be some way off, I would not expect huge improvements for the pound.

EUR – You could be forgiven for thinking that the media is simply rehashing news stories from 6 months ago with lazy journalists replacing the names “Greece” with “Spain”, however concerns are still growing around the single currency’s fourth largest economy. Some technocrats have used guarded language stating Spain may “seek a program” later in the year suggesting a bailout may be needed. Recent measures by the ECB seem to have stabilised the problem but as mentioned in previous alerts the Euro is by no means out of the woods and I suspect this story will continue to run. In my view USD EUR should be on hold for the moment but GBP EUR represents a good buying opportunity already (remember continued turmoil in Europe will likely damage the fortunes of the UK being our biggest trading partner).

USD – Economic recovery in the US still appears to be on track with growth rates and job creation figures that George Osborne can currently only dream of. However GBP USD, or Cable as it is otherwise known, has been pretty range-bound because although growth usually strengthens a currency, it has also meant global investors have been more confident and prepared to move away from the Dollar and into riskier currencies in search of greater returns. The Federal Reserve’s commitment to low interest rates has also meant the Dollar hasn’t surged in value despite the recent growth. Again in my view GBP USD represents a reasonably good buy at the moment although I would be tempted to wait on USD EUR.

AUD – I was almost tempted to copy the update from my last alert relating to the Aussie given that the economic conditions seem identical! The RBA is still concerned over the strength of the Aussie and worried about the sustainability of demand from China and Europe for its raw materials. If you are looking to sell Aussie Dollars I would be inclined to move quickly. If you need buy Aussie in the very near future from sterling then keep a close eye on the rate at the moment as it is currently the highest since December!