PM, rep­re­sen­ta­tives talk tourism

SETE says it ex­pects a record 28 mil­lion tourists in 2017, af­ter Tsipras sug­gests 30 mil­lion is a re­al­is­tic tar­get

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

Vis­i­tor num­bers to Greece will top 35 mil­lion a year by 2021, while tourism rev­enues will range be­tween 19 and 20 bil­lion euros, con­tribut­ing 6 or 7 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct, Greek Tourism Con­fed­er­a­tion (SETE) pres­i­dent An­dreas An­dreadis told Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras dur­ing a meet­ing at Max­i­mos Man­sion yes­ter­day in the pres­ence of SETE vice pres­i­dent Yian­nis Ret­sos and Tourism Min­is­ter Elena Koun­toura.

The prime min­is­ter said 30 mil­lion ar­rivals is a re­al­is­tic tar­get for this year, adding that this would also de­pend on in­ter­na­tional events. SETE of­fi­cials re­sponded that this sea­son could reg­is­ter a record reach­ing up to 28 mil­lion vis­i­tors.

The tourism in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives stressed the need for the cre­ation of an ob­ser­va­tory for the anal­y­sis of statis­tics re­gard­ing ar­rivals and tourism tak­ings. Ac­cord­ing to data from the Bank of Greece, there was a 905-mil­lion-euro de­cline in 2016 rev­enues com­pared to 2015. Fur­ther­more, the lat­est re­port by the World Travel and Tourism Coun­cil (WTTC) showed that ranked among 30 Euro­pean coun­tries, Greece posted the fourth worst per­for­mance in tourism tak­ings last year.

Tsipras ex­pressed cer­tainty that the sec­ond bailout re­view would be wrapped up and said the im­po­si­tion of the planned “spe­cial stay­over levy” would de­pend on the level of the pri­mary bud­get sur­plus.

He also spoke in fa­vor of draft­ing a new Spe­cial Zon­ing Plan for Tourism and asked for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the de­lays in tax­ing un­li­censed short­term rentals ad­ver­tised on sites such as Airbnb and Wimdu. An­other is­sue dis­cussed con­cerned hav­ing ho­tels ab­sorb a greater amount of cer­ti­fied Greek-made prod­ucts.

Tsipras and An­dreadis agreed to 1.0752 have a work­ing din­ner in the next few days with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the heads of the tourism in­dus­try’s na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions.

Ret­sos went on to es­ti­mate that “tourism will be the pro­tag­o­nist for an­other year,” but added that “its tax­pay­ing ca­pac­ity is not end­less.”

New Democ­racy tourism spokesman Manos Kon­so­las stated that “tourism can­not op­er­ate on au­topi­lot, it re­quires in­te­grated and tar­geted poli­cies.”

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