Hoteliers take aim at illegal rivals
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.