Au­tumn tourism ex­pected to gen­er­ate 3.2 bil­lion eu­ros

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

The pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Greek Tourism En­ter­prises (SETE), An­dreas An­dreadis, be­lieves that the tourism sec­tor will sur­vive the test of early elec­tions as long as they re­sult in a strong gov­ern­ment.

The elec­tions are tak­ing place dur­ing a crit­i­cal pe­riod for tourism, as rev­enues of ap­prox­i­mately 3.2 bil­lion eu­ros are ex­pected from around 5.5 mil­lion for­eign tourists be­tween Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber.

In Septem­ber alone, more than 3.5 mil­lion for­eign tourists are ex­pected to visit Greece, bring­ing in 2.2 bil­lion eu­ros. For Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, another one mil­lion tourists are ex­pected.

If elec­tions run smoothly, the Greek tourism in­dus­try will achieve its record 2015 goal of 25 mil­lion tourists and gen­er­ate 14 bil­lion eu­ros for the econ­omy. This is de­spite the dis­rup­tion of Jan­uary’s elec­tions, the ref­eren- dum and de­lays in reach­ing an agree­ment with the coun­try’s cred­i­tors, which led to cap­i­tal con­trols and Septem­bers snap elec­tions.

The elec­tions come at a time when sev­eral vi­tal is­sues for the de­vel­op­ment of the tourism sec­tor are on hold, such as a new in­vest­ment law, said An­dreadis. He stressed that the ho­tel sec­tor should be in­formed as soon as pos­si­ble of po­ten­tial aid avail­able for im­prove­ments, ren­o­va­tions and ex­pan­sions via the de­vel­op­ment law.

An­dreadis also men­tioned the need for rules to dis­tin­guish tourism busi­nesses from or­di­nary ur­ban leases. Fail­ure to do so could prompt busi­nesses to take out short-term ur­ban leases that are only sub­ject to in­come tax, caus­ing fur­ther prob­lems of tax avoid­ance and illegal oper­a­tions.

The pres­i­dent of SETE noted that the fight against the phe- nomenon of illegal tourist ac­com­mo­da­tion will gen­er­ate rev­enue for the state. The VAT rate on ac­com­mo­da­tion ser­vices from early Oc­to­ber will more than dou­ble to 13 per­cent, while tourist pack­ages have been taxed at 23 per­cent since July.

At the same time, An­dreadis said that the adop­tion of in­cen­tives for the use of plas­tic money will be a pow­er­ful tool to boost state rev­enues and com­bat tax eva­sion both in tourism and other sec­tors of the Greek econ­omy. The com­ple­tion of the re­gional air­port pri­va­ti­za­tion process, he added, will send a pos­i­tive mes­sage to air­lines that will be­gin plan­ning routes for 2016 this Novem­ber.

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