Greek tourism is running the risk of slipping backward in comparison with last year’s record figures and the forecasts for further growth issued at the start of the season could fall flat, tourism professionals heard on Thursday.
The head of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises, Andreas Andreadis, warned the group’s annual general meeting that the positive expectations for the sector this year may not come to pass due to the excessive taxation the government is imposing on tourism and the delayed completion of the bailout review that has led to additional austerity measures for Greece that are weighing heavily, directly or indirectly, on the sector.
In this context Andreadis stated that the government is ready – under pressure from the country’s creditors – to again increase the cost of accommodation, food service, soft and alcoholic beverages, museum tickets and a series of basic products and services that will make package holidays more expensive. He said the “tourist’s basket” will become much pricier, having already suffered a 10 percent decline in competitiveness due to the taxes of the third bailout agreement.
The chief of Greek tourism professionals was particularly critical of the government’s intention to impose a “stayover levy” on hotels and rented rooms. He also cited recent studies noting that 40 percent of tourism accommodation units are facing serious survival problems, and called for the support of healthy enterprises by the banking system.
Andreadis went on to warn that unless tourism manages to stop the slide of the country’s gross domestic product, or contribute to its rebound, the targets of the bailout program will not be met and new measures will have to be imposed yet again. “That will mean Greek taxpayers will be asked to pay twice, in 2017 and in 2018, what visitors to this country do not give this and next year,” the SETE president argued.
In contrast, Alternate Minister for Tourism Elena Kountoura expressed optimism about the sector’s course this year.