Prime Minister Samaras, members of the government, Ladies and gentlemen, what a pleasure to be here with you today. My congratulations to all of those who believed in this project and made it happen. This is a fantastic partnership between Kerzner and Grivalia. You’ve been able to deliver a spectacular resort that I think is going to literally change the way that people and visitors perceive the ultra luxury market in Greece.
And indeed when I was touring the resort, I thought that essentially everything that we try to achieve when it comes to tourism is essentially exhibited in this wonderful place: our strategic decision to take our product upmarket, the focus on sustainability -and of course it is always much more sustainable to take over a rundown site than to build a new building, this is exactly what you have done here-, the turning of the city towards the sea.
It was always a paradox to me that a city with a 50-kilometer coastline did not focus on developing resorts on the seashore. This is happening not just here, but with the Ellinikon project and many other projects that are currently underway.
Of course, this notion, which is so critical of the importance of prolonging the season, a resort that can stay open for the entire year and offering unique experience to all of those who want to come to Greece, not just during the summer months. Of course, all this is a result of a significant capital investment that you have made.
At the end of the day, what is most important from our point of view is that this creates lots of good paying jobs. The higher the rates you charge, the more you will be able to pay your staff, the more training they will require, and the more the young people who work here will actually see that a career in hospitality is a career worth pursuing. In that sense, what you are doing here is very important.
But I would like to add a special footnote to highlight the commitment that Prem Watsa has made to Greece. I think that you should contemplate maybe erecting a statue to commemorate the resilient investor because if there’s ever been a resilient and patient investor, that is certainly Prem, who actually has been in Greece and seen the bad side of Greece, but also the good side, believed in the progress, significant progress that was made under the Samaras government, but also stuck with Greece during the very difficult years of the previous government.
We have helped these types of investments significantly by streamlining the business environment and I would like to thank all the ministries that are responsible for cooperating with your team to actually make this a reality. I think you’ve picked a good date for this event because essentially this opening symbolises the progress that the country has made. On Friday, we managed to obtain the investment-grade decision by S&P. Our public finances are in order, the economy is growing at a much faster rate than the Eurozone average.
In spite of the fact that we are faced, the global economy is faced with significant tailwinds, we have every reason to be optimistic about Greece and when it comes to our tourism, tourist product, we should be very ambitious. I’ve always said that we need to make Greece the best destination in the world. We can do that. We need to partner with the best to be able to do that and I think we have made significant steps towards achieving that goal.
Again, my congratulations to everyone who has made this project possible. Of course, to the investors, but also to the Greek construction companies, to the project managers, to everyone who worked to deliver this resort on time and hopefully on budget. I think this is up to you to decide whether they’ve done a good job. And I’m really looking forward to you welcoming the first guests and to reading the first reviews.
Honestly, I cannot imagine many cities that can offer a resort of this quality so close to the center of the city. This is what we have. This is a very unique heritage. It is our duty to protect it and to make sure that whatever we build is in line with the highest standards of sustainability. This is what you have achieved here. So, again, congratulations.