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Greek tourism with taxes twice as high as those of competitor countries

05 August 2015 / 19:08:06  GRReporter
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Hopes are rising for new records during this year's tourist season in terms of the number of incoming foreign tourists and revenue levels.

The President of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis, told Kathimerini that if the country is spared other upheavals in its political and economic life by the end of the season, e.g. early elections, inbound tourism can see some of its initial excellence objectives achieved. Numerically, this would mean more than 25 million foreign tourists and revenues of €14 billion.

Andreadis argues that tourism has shown a high degree of resistance to the mayhem after the imposition of capital controls. The key factor, he explains, was the reduction of tourist package rates in foreign markets.

Thus, in quite a few regions, by offering discounts and bargains, foreign visitors might fill the gaps in bookings, which in July followed the collapse of the domestic tourism market. Andreadis also attributes rising revenues this season to the falling euro against other major currencies, such as the US dollar and the UK pound.

For the 2016 season, the SETE president believes that the tourism industry will come under pressure from increased VAT on accommodations and catering. Greek VAT for hoteliers will be almost twice as high as rates in competing countries, which will scupper opportunities for price flexibility bolstering demand.

Meanwhile, mixed trends have been shaping in terms of foreign tourists arriving through provincial airports in July, according to the first totals. For example, the island of Rhodes' airport has seen 411,114 arrivals, which is 2% less against July 2014. A slump of 51.5% was registered for tourists arriving from Russia: only 28,308 compared to the 57,953 of the same month last year. Conversely, the number of tourists coming from Germany increased by 10.5%, reaching 55,598 against last year's 50,294. Arrivals from the UK have seen a 6% growth, reaching 68,935 compared to 65,040 last year.

The island of Zakynthos enjoys a spike of 7.6% in July's foreign arrivals, reaching 150,964. For the first seven months of the year, the increase is 5.6%, corresponding to 340,887 people. Analysing July data, Christina Tetradi, president of the Hoteliers' Association of Laganas, reports a 11.3% increase of tourist arrivals from the UK, a major market for Zakynthos. Tourists from Germany and Poland have also risen substantially, by 35.8% and 70.9% respectively. Contrary to that, Russian tourists have dipped by 82.5%.

Deputy Minister of Tourism Elena Koundoura describes the Welcome campaign, which takes place within the Greek advertising agenda, and targets tourists at the national entry points. The campaign includes installing Welcome posters containing tourist information across airports and ports. Individual governorates and municipalities can unload various materials electronically from the site of the Greek National Tourism Organisation.


Tags: tourism taxes VAT tourist season Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises
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