April 1st. Athens. With all the bad economic news coming out of Greece it's good to know someone is doing well. That someone would be Matt Barrett, whose travel blog Matt's Greece Travel Guide was sold late last night to a consortium of travel companies for 250 million euros or roughly 320 million US dollars. Though details of the deal has
yet to be released it is believed the group that has purchased the site is made up of travel publishing giants including Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, Frommers,
Insight, and Rick Steves Inc, all companies whose sales of their Greek guidebooks have been hurt over the years by Barrett's extraordinarily popular website. "We did the only thing we could do to get rid of him and that was buy him out. Hopefully we can begin making money again" said a spokesman for the group.
"I had no intention of selling but they made me an offer I could not refuse. I mean 250 million euros for something that was just a hobby? That's crazy money and I would have to be worse than crazy to not take it", said Barrett when called at his rural North Carolina home.
The popular guide which Barrett began in 1995 as a collection of drunken ramblings and developed into one of the most reliable sources of information about Greece is estimated to have brought in some 750 million euros a year into Greece, a country that has been severely damaged by austerity but whose one hope remains tourism. It is hoped that the new owners will continue the website, using their own teams of writers to re-create Barrett's unique voice and hopefully use the
the instrument that will propel Greece out of its crisis. It is believed that the country will be divided into sections or 'sectors' that will allow the pool of writers to focus on the areas they know best. Rough Guide's Marc Dubin, a frequent guest writer on Barrett's site, will cover the Dodecanese and North Aegean Islands. David Willett, now of Rick Steves will cover the mainland and the Peloponessos. Alexia Amvrazi of Insight Guides will cover the Cyclades, while Nick Edwards will do the Ionian Islands.
believed that Rick Steves himself has taken a special interest in Greece and the changing face of tourism and will personally take charge of a segment called 'Revolutionary Tourism' that will include a detailed guide to the Mani, Kalavritos, and the neighborhood of Exarchia in Athens, an area known for its anarchist and anti-establishment leanings, as well as a section on how to take part in the revolutionary activities in Greece for young travelers.
As for Barrett he has made some plans. "I have always disliked golf. But I know that often it is the things that are good for you that are those things you generally don't want to do. So I plan to be like anyone who just made a quarter of a billion dollars for doing nothing, and play golf for awhile." When pressed further he admitted to having political aspirations and would be willing to take the job as Greece's Minister of Tourism as a stepping
stone to the premiership in a country that has had great success with Greek-Americans at the helm.
Asked if he had any plans for future travel websites Barrett replied that he is interested in doing a guide to Slovenia, one of the least known and most beautiful countries in Europe. He also pointed out that with the sale of Greece Travel he might consider selling his Paris Guide (www.aparisguide.com) and North Carolina Guides (www.northcarolinatravels.com) each of which could earn
close to what
he got for Greece Travel.
"In this current economic crisis one can never have enough money" said Barrett with a smile. Asked if he planned to invest it in Greece his answer was simple. "Absolutely", he replied. "Just as soon as I get it out of the bank in Cyprus where the money was being held during the tedious negotiations."