ECONOMY

Half of tourism units may be illegal

half-of-tourism-units-may-be-illegal

One in two tourism accommodation units in Greece are suspected of being illegal on the basis of inspections by the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), which intends to crack down on a phenomenon that not only deprives the state of much-needed revenues but also reduces the market share of enterprises in the sector that operate legally.

SETE Director General Alexandros Lamnidis told Kathimerini that the association has submitted to the Economy and Tourism Ministry, as well as to the Finance Ministry, the results of a first batch of inspections conducted in the last few months in cooperation with a private firm that specializes in zeroing in on accommodation units operating without a license.

Lamnidis noted that from approximately 2,000 checks conducted through the process of online bookings there is good reason to suspect that more than 1,000 of those units are operating without a license. The majority of them are apartments, villas and luxury villas that secure bookings via popular online booking systems. In some cases, these units can see revenues of thousands of euros a week – without having to pay the tax that is normally due.

The fine imposed on illegal tourism accommodation units identified by the competent monitoring authorities can reach 50,000 euros.

SETE’s objective is to continue the process of identifying lawbreakers and to submit the results of 2,000 checks every month to the two competent ministries.

The tourism association is also in favor of the adoption of a series of measures for combatting every phenomenon of tax evasion so as to protect healthy and legitimate entrepreneurship in the industry. In this context it has proposed the immediate activation of intensive inspections in the market and the enforcement of tough financial and operating sanctions on violators.

SETE has also called for online pricing lists and the interconnection of cash registers with the General Secretariat of Information Systems (GSIS) in order to improve the data flow and relieve professionals from time-consuming procedures and delays.