Greece is suffering as a result of the major deficit in tax and regulatory competitiveness in its hotel sector, according to top officials at two of the biggest foreign groups in the sector with considerable investments in the country.
Bureaucracy and overtaxation have driven investors away from Greece, said Renzo Iorio, chief operating officer at AccorHotels for Italy, Greece, Israel and Malta, in response to a question from Kathimerini at the 1st International Hospitality Forum a few days ago.
“Greece has been suffering from the same problems for years, and those problems have grown bigger due to the overtaxation,” added Michael Mavropoulos, regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean at TUI Destination Services.
Both officials stressed that Greek tourism has significant growth potential and constitutes a particularly attractive market for hotel investments, but there are some obstacles.
“Investors seeing that Greece is one of the most attractive destinations should not come up against red tape,” the TUI director argued, noting that “we need to make some brave decisions and put an end to obsolete licensing models that other countries have overcome.”
TUI, which currently owns 32 hotels in Greece, recently announced it has included the creation of 10 new units in its investment plans. Accor, which operates the Novotel and Sofitel chains, is proceeding with plans to open the first Ibis Hotel in Athens.
Both officials spoke clearly about the need for the licensing process to speed up. Iorio went a step further, saying authorities should consider how long it takes investors to earn back the money they have invested.
Forum host Giorgos Tsakiris, the head of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, said in his opening remarks that the conditions on which the survival of Greek hotels hinges include familiarization with the new demands of hospitality, the utilization of new technologies, the optimum approach to and management of customer requirements, enriching hospitality with new products, improving marketing and forming hotel consortiums.