BUSINESS

SETE says it expects a record 28 million tourists in 2017

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

TAGS: Tourism, Economy

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 on Monday 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 short-term 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 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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