This year the number of social tourism voucher recipients will be more than twice as high as last year in a program that will cost the Manpower Organization (OAED) three times the state’s contribution in 2019, allowing employed and unemployed Greeks alike to enjoy low-cost holidays.
Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis and OAED director Spyros Protopsaltis presented the new social tourism program on Wednesday and revealed that its total budget is 30 million euros – against €10 million in previous years – which shows the government’s determination to support domestic tourism.
The 2020-21 program, expected to begin on August 1, is seen covering 300,000 beneficiaries, up from 140,000 a year earlier. At the same time the vouchers for the 2019-20 season will also be valid up until the end of October, after it was decided that the 113,000 social tourism vouchers that hadn’t been used should receive an extension for their utilization.
The new program notably includes a significant subsidy for ferry tickets too, as voucher holders will only have to pay a third of the fare, with the rest being covered by OAED and the ferry companies. For disabled people, the new program provides for a six-night trip instead of five, as well as a reduced contribution by the beneficiary. The maximum amount payable by participants comes to €11.5 per person per night. As for hotels, the new program reduces their mandatory availability rate to 25% from 40% last year.
Vroutsis thanked Protopsaltis and noted that the ferry ticket subsidy is aimed at creating strong incentives for people to choose Greek islands for their vacations, as until last year the vouchers had only subsidized accommodation.
In the same context, the program retains the special framework for social tourism for the islands affected by the migrant influx (Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos), while also adding the prefecture of Evros. This framework provides for 10 nights and zero contribution toward accommodation costs by the voucher holders.
The OAED chief called on the enterprises participating in the program to make the most of the increased subsidies that make it more attractive both for beneficiaries and the tourism sector so as to immediately bolster domestic tourism.
The selection of beneficiaries will be conducted electronically, using family, financial and social security criteria.