Greece’s Golden Visa programme, which allows residence permits to people who invest in the country, is reportedly set to show its first annual decline this year since it was launched in 2014.

“In the first three months of the year we had practically no new transactions and this is unlikely to change in the rest of the year, with a possible exception in the final quarter when there may be an increase in market activity,” Alexandros Risvas, head of the Risvas & Associates law firm, told Athens newspaper Kathimerini.

He added that although there is some demand, this will not translate into new property purchases until 2021, but only if air transport will be fully restored by then.

Kathimerini reports that in the first quarter of 2020, the number of Golden Visas issued reached 227, as travel restrictions had reduced visits from China, where the majority of demand for the Golden Visa programme originates.

Based on the latest data, the total number of Golden Visas issued since 2014 came to 7,414 by end-March 2020, of which 72.2% concerned Chinese investors.

According to the newspaper, another factor hampering the programme this year is psychology, as many interested investors do not want to take the risk of traveling to Greece in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, even after the borders have fully opened.

A further obstacle to the completion of transactions has been the difficulty in employing alternative ways, such as those offered by technology.

“We could have allowed the electronic forwarding of fingerprints, through embassy cooperation, so that at least some of the applications pending in previous months would proceed,” Risvas told Kathimerini.

Risvas says Greece’s management of COVID-19 will attract more investors in the future.

“After the pandemic and its successful management in Greece, a number of Chinese investors are now interested in acquiring a house for their own use,” he said.

According to the World Health Organisation’s latest statistics, Greece has recorded 173 deaths due to COVID-19.

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