Do­mes­tic tourism ex­pected to shrink over Au­gust 15 hol­i­day

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

As­so­ci­a­tion of Greek Tourism En­ter­prises (SETE) pres­i­dent An­dreas An­dreadis an­tic­i­pates a min­i­mum 20 per­cent an­nual drop in Greeks trav­el­ing within the coun­try on and around the Au­gust 15 hol­i­day.

The col­lapse of the do­mes­tic tourism mar­ket be­gan af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of cap­i­tal con­trols at the end of June with mass can­cel­la­tions and a slow­down in new book­ings. While Greeks’ tra­di­tion­ally go on their sum­mer va­ca­tions around the Dor­mi­tion hol­i­day on Au­gust 15, that boost will not be suf­fi­cient to cover the losses from the pre­vi­ous pe­riod and the rest of the sea­son.

De­mand has been ob­served for des­ti­na­tions ac­ces­si­ble by road such as Evia, Pilio, Pieria, La­co­nia and Halkidiki. In­ter­est has also been shown for the Cy­cladic is­lands, although lim­ited to just be­fore and af­ter Au­gust 15.

The do­mes­tic tourism mar­ket this year is char­ac­ter­ized by shorter va­ca­tions, lower con­sump­tion and a pref­er­ence for vis­it­ing rel­a­tives and friends. The cri­sis has spread to ac­com­mo­da­tion rentals de­spite prices be­ing main­tained at 2014 lev­els or lower still by ne­go­ti­at­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­dent of the Greek Con­fed­er­a­tion of Room and Apart­ment Rental Busi­nesses, Con­stanti­nos Brentanos, phone calls for book­ings, which in other years reached 15 a day, are at a min­i­mum.

Book­ings through spe­cial­ized web­sites are also down. In ar­eas de­pen­dent on do­mes­tic tourism, rooms are still avail­able. In ad­di­tion, Brentanos re­ports that ac­com­mo­da­tion book­ings by Greeks are down in pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions such as Corfu, Rhodes and Crete.

He says the rise in illegal ac­com­mo­da­tion, which he puts at over 200,000 units (com­pared to 380,000 that op­er­ate legally), is also to blame since such units avoid tax­a­tion and cre­ate un­fair com­pe­ti­tion. He adds, “Or­der must be im­posed to pro­tect le­git­i­mate busi­nesses that bear tax and so­cial se­cu­rity bur­dens com­pared to those who break the law and pay noth­ing to the state, while many de­posit rents into for­eign ac­counts.” He says that while the law pro­vides for fines of up to 50,000 eu­ros, since checks are not made it makes no dif­fer­ence.

Brentanos ex­pects that ac­com­mo­da­tion prices will in­crease in 2016 due to the dou­bling of VAT for such busi­nesses. He un­der­lines the dif­fi­culty for SMEs in the sec­tor al­ready of­fer­ing very low rates and op­er­at­ing at the limit to ab­sorb the VAT in­crease and other charges such as the ENFIA prop­erty tax.

Places that are within driv­ing dis­tance of Greece’s main cities, such as re­sorts in the Mount Pilio area, are prov­ing pop­u­lar with Greeks.

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