ECONOMY

Tourism has potential for more growth, argues SETE

After a 10 percent increase in foreign tourism last year, both in arrivals and receipts, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) says the sector can grow further in 2012 to account for 17 percent of the country?s gross domestic product and 20 percent of employment.

In a memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, SETE cites a McKinsey study suggesting that tourism can provide 35 percent of Greek growth until 2021, bringing in an additional 18 billion euros per year for an annual total of 50 billion, and create 40 percent of new jobs, amounting to 220,000.

Even without additional investment in accommodation, the existing tourism infrastructure can host 3.5 million visitors more than the 16.5 million who came to Greece last year, the association stated.

Under the right conditions, tourism can post fresh growth this year, SETE argued, mentioning the need for structural changes and various measures, including the reduction of value-added tax on all-inclusive packages to 6.5 percent and on food to 13 percent, the full and immediate liberalization of land transport and the cruise sector, and the rationalization of the labor market.