The president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis, believes that the tourism sector will survive the test of early elections as long as they result in a strong government.
The elections are taking place during a critical period for tourism, as revenues of approximately 3.2 billion euros are expected from around 5.5 million foreign tourists between September and October.
In September alone, more than 3.5 million foreign tourists are expected to visit Greece, bringing in 2.2 billion euros. For November and December, another one million tourists are expected.
If elections run smoothly, the Greek tourism industry will achieve its record 2015 goal of 25 million tourists and generate 14 billion euros for the economy. This is despite the disruption of January’s elections, the referendum and delays in reaching an agreement with the country’s creditors, which led to capital controls and Septembers snap elections.
The elections come at a time when several vital issues for the development of the tourism sector are on hold, such as a new investment law, said Andreadis. He stressed that the hotel sector should be informed as soon as possible of potential aid available for improvements, renovations and expansions via the development law.
Andreadis also mentioned the need for rules to distinguish tourism businesses from ordinary urban leases. Failure to do so could prompt businesses to take out short-term urban leases that are only subject to income tax, causing further problems of tax avoidance and illegal operations.
The president of SETE noted that the fight against the phenomenon of illegal tourist accommodation will generate revenue for the state. The VAT rate on accommodation services from early October will more than double to 13 percent, while tourist packages have been taxed at 23 percent since July.
At the same time, Andreadis said that the adoption of incentives for the use of plastic money will be a powerful tool to boost state revenues and combat tax evasion both in tourism and other sectors of the Greek economy. The completion of the regional airport privatization process, he added, will send a positive message to airlines that will begin planning routes for 2016 this November.