ECONOMY

Target for tourism next year set at over 18 mln arrivals

The target for foreign tourism arrivals next year is over 18 million euros, according to the president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis. Air arrivals are likely to rise by as much as 1 million.

These estimates are included in a letter that SETE published after sending it to Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Tourism Development Minister Olga Kefaloyianni. Arrivals are expected to come close to 17.5 million for this year.

The letter details the conditions needed for the target of 24 million arrivals and the addition of 5 to 6 percentage points to the country’s gross domestic product by 2021, according to a tourism study drafted by consultants McKinsey.

SETE recommends retaining the value-added tax rate at 13 percent for catering enterprises given that the the contracts for holiday packages signed with tour operators have already factored in this rate. The association stresses that revenues from August onward, when the reduced rate applied, appear considerably improved, not because of the reduction in prices – which is expected to become more evident next year – but because the incentive to avoid issuing receipts is smaller with the VAT at 13 percent instead of the previous 23 percent rate.

The association of tourism professionals further proposes the reduction of VAT from 23 to 13 percent at ports that receive a lot of tourists in order to boost public revenues, as well as the halving of VAT on ferries from 13 to 6.5 percent.

It also calls for the abolition of the property transfer tax, saying that it hampers transactions for properties that the tourism domain could use, such as empty hotels. SETE estimates that the empty or near-empty hotel units across Greece account for 50,000 beds, with an investment potential of 3 billion euros.