Greece Welcomes Discerning Golfers Despite Debt Crisis

It's been a tumultuous couple of weeks for Greece. ~ The sun-soaked Aegean nation, normally thought of as the ideal destination for a romantic vacation, has quickly become an international symbol of debt and desperation.

The fact is, Greece is having difficulties servicing its sovereign debt, and though most of us don't understand exactly what that means, everyone seems to be talking about it. ~ A few nights ago, Jay Leno even compared it to...gulp... California. in:
Greece is a relatively small country. It would be like a state over here. But it over-spends, it over-borrows, it promises expensive pension plans, it over-taxes, it over-regulates business. ... So, over here it would be the state of California.
The "Greece worries" reached a crescendo last week with angry protests in the streets of Athens. An EU/IMF bailout followed, and the world has been a-buzz over the descending Euro, ever since.

Meanwhile, Troon Golf's Navarino Dunes, an impressive seaside course designed by Hall of Fame golf champion Bernhard Langer, is set to open in two weeks as the first stage in the development of Costa Navarino and will launch Greece as an international golf destination. The Romanos, a Starwoods Luxury Collection Hotel will open at the same time and offer the finest accommodations and the most sumptuous spa.

In light of recent news reports, a Greek golf vacation may at first glance seem implausible to many in the Americas, but on the contrary, the one great upside to the weaker Euro is that European vacations are going to be substantially less expensive this summer. At least 15% - 20% cheaper. ~ WorldGolf's Brandon Tucker wrote about this in regards to Ireland earlier this month... and it certainly applies to Greece.

Meanwhile, tourism... which in Greece accounts for 15% of GDP and employs over 10% of the population... has been identified as one of the key areas for early recovery.

This has prompted an initiative among Greek hotel owners and tour operators to improve their services and offer more value to customers. In addition, Greece is one of the safest destinations in the world and its tourism infrastructure and amenities are have been world class since the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. And they're saying that foreign demand could prove key to hauling the country out of its debt crisis.

Navarino Dunes is located in Messinia in the Southwest Peloponnese on the incredibly clear, amazingly blue Ionian Sea. It's an area untouched until now by mass tourism. In addition to a spectacular costal setting, the area is home to palaces from the Mycenaean era, classical temples, Byzantine churches and medieval castles.

The developers of of Costa Navarino, TEMES, SA, are working in conjunction with a number of environmental organizations to create a true eco-tourism destination, and a catalyst for protection of the pristine environment.

It is inevitable that prospective travelers to Greece worry when they see images of protesters and read articles about disturbances in Athens. However it's important to note that the disruptions are localized in just small section of the center of the city.

I'll be going to Costa Navarino sometime this summer and I look forward to documenting everything. In the meantime, I urge everyone to consider a trip to this spectacular part of the world.

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