New ideas to boost Greek agritourism

A new category of accommodation is currently being prepared and is planned to be added to Greece’s tourism product under the «xenonas» (guest house) label. The newly designated facilities will offer full board services, and efforts will be made to differentiate it entirely from the customary «rooms to let» type of tourism business. In addition, as part of efforts to upgrade the Greek tourism sector, plans are being made for the establishment of another new institution, the «agroktima» (farm), offering exactly what its title describes, a farm that can be visited by tourists. The two measures are part of efforts to create the appropriate legislative framework for tourism in the countryside, envisaged to effectively boost entrepreneurship in the specific subsector, but also in view of preparing the National Strategic Reference Framework of investment subsidies under the European Union’s Fourth Community Support Framework. Already, an increasing number of entrepreneurs are active in this specific area and are demanding solutions to a number of legislation snags currently obstructing their activities in terms of legal and organizational matters. Some preliminary work on the issue has already been done by a special working team, set up for that purpose, comprising representatives from agritourism businesses, farmers, development firms, trade associations, the Greek National Tourism Organization and the Ministry of Tourism. A relevant ministerial decision, according to officials, should be amended to allow the smooth and unhindered operation of countryside tourism. Objectives include the incorporation of guest house and farm specifications into the revised joint ministerial decision as a financing criterion for inclusion in the projects to be subsidized. The working team is also looking into legal and tax obstacles faced by businessmen or farmers planning to set up businesses in the respective areas. Such issues include the possibility of the on-site use and sale of agricultural products, processed or not, produced by the farm owner, the proximity of guest houses with any animal shelters, as well as insurance aspects and registration of certain new types of jobs arising from such a new activity.