Greece will be offering residence to non-EU investors buying or renting property worth over €250,000 (HK$2.5 million), in a bid to revive its moribund real estate industry, officials say.
The initiative, voted into law last week, comes in response to strong demand from Arab, Chinese and Russian investors, the officials from the interior ministry and property groups told a news conference yesterday.
Valid for five years and open to renewal, the residence plan follows similar measures adopted by Hungary, Spain and Portugal in the past.
"Finally, the property market can move out of its paralysis a little," Stratos Paradias, head of the confederation of Greek homeowners, said.
The permits will enable the holders, their spouses and children under the age of 18 to freely travel - though not work - in the Schengen area for three straight months at a time.
The recession gripping Greece for a sixth straight year and heavy taxation has crippled its construction industry that was previously a pillar of the country's economy.
The Greek crisis had put half a million sector staff out of work and sidelined 12,000 firms, Dimitris Kapsimalis, chairman of the confederation of construction firms, said.
Under the terms of the multi-billion European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout that saved its economy from bankruptcy, Greece must raise €2.6 billion through asset sales this year.
In addition to controlling stakes in state firms, a large number of state real estate has been put up for lease or sale, including ministry buildings and consulate buildings abroad.
The tourism ministry yesterday announced plans to boost the flow of so-called senior tourists, in response to an ageing worldwide population.
"We have to upgrade our services and form a specific policy aiming at the increase of senior tourism," said Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni.
While tourism numbers look promising for this summer, Greece remains lacking in facilities that cater to the over-55 market, a fast-growing sector of the population that has different needs and interests.
The Hellenic chamber of hotels projected that senior tourists would make up 24 per cent of the international market in 2030.