BUSINESS

SETE attempts damage control, asking for new tax to be imposed only in July and August

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

TAGS: Tourism, Taxation

Greece’s hoteliers asked the prime minister on Thursday whether the new tax on overnight stays at accommodation units, due to be imposed from January 2018, could apply only during July and August, if indeed it has to be imposed at all.

Representatives of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) told Alexis Tsipras at a meeting in his office that if the tax is imposed only during those two months it would have a minimal impact on demand, while its year-round application would torpedo efforts to extend the tourism season and hurt the country’s winter resorts.

Tsipras estimated Greece can exceed 30 million tourism arrivals this year. Citing figures from the first five months of 2017, he said tourism could make an even greater contribution to the economy this year than the recently revised forecasts. He also set as an objective the extension of the season beyond the four months when tourism peaks.

However, data published on Thursday by the Bank of Greece showed such an extension remained a dead letter, at least this year: Travel receipts in the first quarter posted a 9.2 percent annual drop and arrivals shrank 4.2 percent.

Spending per trip declined 5.2 percent, expenditure per night’s stay was down 1.9 percent and the average length of stay fell 3.4 percent.

Cruise arrivals plummeted 48.1 percent year-on-year and cruise tourism takings sank 36 percent, confirming the expected decline in the sector.

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