Hote­liers take aim at il­le­gal ri­vals

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

The state cof­fers have missed out on up to 600 mil­lion eu­ros this year due to il­le­gal tourism ac­com­mo­da­tion. The rel­a­tively new phe­nom­e­non known as peer-to-peer prop­erty rental is ex­pected to ex­pand sig­nif­i­cantly in the com­ing sea­son as the gov­ern­ment is set to lump home rentals to­gether with tourism ac­com­mo­da­tion in terms of tax sta­tus next Mon­day.

The pres­i­dent of the Hel­lenic Cham­ber of Ho­tels, Gior­gos Tsakiris, ex­pressed con­cern dur­ing the cham­ber’s first re­gional meet­ing that took place on Rhodes re­cently about the bal­loon­ing of il­le­gal peer-to-peer prop­erty rental.

He cited a re­cent Grant Thorn­ton study, com­mis­sioned by the cham­ber, which showed that airbnb­style rentals last year ac­counted for 20 mil­lion overnight stays in Greece, rob­bing the coun­try of 15,000 le­gal jobs and ab­sorb­ing 1.5 bil­lion eu­ros in tourism rev­enues while gen­er­at­ing tax eva­sion of 400 mil­lion eu­ros. This year, Tsakiris es­ti­mated, the above fig­ures will have grown by 30 to 50 per­cent, while in 2025 they will be on a par with le­git­i­mate tourism ac­com­mo­da­tion, which will have shrunk con­sid­er­ably.

Le­gal hote­liers’ main line of de­fense is high­light­ing the prob­lems and putting pres­sure on the state to in­tro­duce rules for peer-to-peer prop­erty rentals, along with mon­i­tor­ing and tax­ing those who profit from them, as well as en­sur­ing that hote­liers and tra­di­tional op­er­a­tors of rooms for rent for tourists ad­ver­tise the qual­ity of their prod­uct.

The pres­i­dent of the Hel­lenic Ho­tel Fed­er­a­tion, Yian­nis Ret­sos, warned that ap­ply­ing the same tax sta­tus to home rentals and tourism ac­com­mo­da­tion will lead to an un­con­trolled mar­ket that uses airbnb­style plat­forms and pays no taxes. This will in turn harm em­ploy­ment in tourism, too, he added.

The head of Rhodes hote­liers, An­to­nis Kam­bourakis, noted that 2016 will be par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult ow­ing to the gen­eral com­pe­ti­tion, the eco­nomic cri­sis, prob­lems with im­mi­grants and refugees, new taxes – es­pe­cially value-added tax – and the com­pe­ti­tion with il­le­gal ac­com­mo­da­tion.

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