BUSINESS

Gloomy prospects for tourism

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

TAGS: Tourism

Following the year-on-year drop in travel receipts over the first seven months of 2016 and the expected decline of 25 percent in hotel enterprises’ net results, there are ominous signs for the industry next year too, according to Greek hoteliers.

Yiannis Retsos, the president of the Hellenic Hotel Federation and vice president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), warned on Wednesday that unless a series of key issues are resolved, the sector will be destined for further hardship in 2017 too. The main threat to the country’s image in the international markets remains the handling of the refugee and migrant crisis.

Retsos also expressed concern about the future of tourism investments in the country, branding the Investment Incentives Law as “anti-investment” for the hotel sector. He further referred to the fresh blow small hotels will suffer when their owners are moved into the system for self-employed professionals as of January 1, 2017.

As regards bad loans in the sector, Retsos warned of the risk that Greek hotels will fall into the hands of foreigners unless each case is examined on its own merit. He called for special care in cases of enterprises that have been consistent in servicing their debts in the past and now find themselves in trouble due to the financial crisis.

He went on to stress the “unjustifiable delay” in the implementation of a regulatory and tax framework in the market of peer-to-peer property rentals, which has created conditions of unfair competition for legally operating tourism enterprises, to say nothing of the loss of state revenues.

Regarding the current tourism season, Retsos predicted that it will be very difficult for the losses of 346 million euros seen in the January-July period this year compared to 2015 to be offset in the last five months of 2016. Retsos attributed the drop to the reduction in the average stay of foreign tourists in Greece despite the increase in arrivals, to visits by lower-income travelers who switched to Greece from Turkey, and to the excessive taxation of tourism enterprises.

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