Seeking to revive tourism and other sectors hit by the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a reboot plan on Wednesday to the tune of 24 billion euros that will serve as a three-pillar bridge from “from today’s uncertainty to tomorrow’s security.”
In a televised address, Mitsotakis said these three pillars will be job support, targeted tax cuts and the boosting of entrepreneurship.
He also announced that the tourism season will officially begin on June 15, two weeks earlier than initially planned, with the opening of seasonal hotels.
Speaking after the PM, Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis said that flights will initially only land at Athens International Airport when services resume on June 15 from countries with low coronavirus infection rates like Bulgaria in the Balkans and Germany in Northern Europe.
International flights will begin heading directly for holiday destinations gradually as of July 1.
Theocharis said tourists will be allowed to enter Greece without taking a coronavirus test or remaining in quarantine when international flights restart but health officials will conduct spot tests when required.
He added that the healthcare capacity of several tourist destinations will be boosted with tests and doctors, as well as an operational plan for the handling of possible infections.
Outlining his plan for the economy, Mitsotakis said all unemployment benefits are being extended and that the government will also subsidize salaries and social security contributions for workers in the tourism sector. It will also pay unemployment benefits to seasonal employees who will not be hired this year.
Moreover, there will be a five-month reduction (from June 1 until October 31) of VAT from 24% to 13% for travel by ship, bus and airplanes, so that those who go on vacation in the summer “can do so at the lowest possible cost.”
There will also be VAT reductions on coffee, non-alcoholic beverages and outdoor cinemas.
Mitsotakis also announced that the second phase of the “Deposit to be Returned” program will be launched this month. At the same time, another 1 billion euros will be allocated for this program, while the Business Guarantee Fund will also be activated, mobilizing 7 billion euros by 2020.
“Businesses will thus have the opportunity to get quick and easy financing, with the state guaranteeing up to 80% of loans,” he said.