ECONOMY

State hurts tourism

The lack of foreign investment in the tourism industry is due principally to the bureaucratic tangle and disincentives provided by the State, the head of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) said. Stavros Andreadis said that, in the last 11 years, he has repeatedly pointed to the barriers which have held back growth in the tourism industry. He said in recent years local entrepreneurs have invested heavily in their businesses, upgrading their standards as well as constructing new hotels without any support from the State. Andreadis said that when businesses refer to state assistance, they don’t mean more incentives but concrete intervention, such as a stable tax regime to boost the tourism sector. They also want a contemporary communication tool to promote the country abroad. «Foreign investors are harsh critics and are more objective and because of this, they prefer not to invest in Greek tourism projects,» Andreadis said. He said it’s no coincidence that there are no major privately owned hotel chains in Greece, as they prefer to invest in other countries. He said the State’s tourism strategy should try to improve the investment climate by simplifying development law, attracting foreign capital and modernizing tourism businesses. It is also important to link the advertising campaign with the 2004 Olympic Games and focus on quality and the relationship between price and quality. Andreadis said the government has failed to respond to the needs of Greek tourism. He said it has nothing to do with individuals, as the decision-making mechanism is now very complex. He said the tourism sector wants action and not proclamations. Referring to this year’s tourist season, he sounded worried, especially in view of the fact that the industry has no defense against negative domestic or external occurrences. Andreadis said Greece appears to take action only when problems arise and in most cases, that these don’t work. He also called on all participants in the tourism industry to present a united front, as this would be the only way to resolve basic problems which have long troubled the sector. He said the industry has been fragmented for far too long and that it should present joint proposals to the State, increasing the chances of them being accepted. The results of this month’s secondary school end of term and university entrance exams will start to be made public by the Ministry of Education today. The full lists of university entrants are expected in early September.