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Greeks are creative but impatient

16 November 2012 / 22:11:40  GRReporter
2399 reads

Victoria Mindova

"We have started a very long marathon and the question is whether people will endure it. The good news is that we, the Greeks, are creative. The problem is that we are impatient." This is how the head of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises Andreas Andreadis described the current situation at a forum in Athens dedicated to Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Recent data from the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises indicate that tourism contributed 16.5% to GDP in 2011. It employs 18.4% of the labour force in Greece or over 758 thousand people and has an annual turnover of 10.5 billion euro. Over 50% of tourist flow comes to the country in the months of July to August.

Andreadis spoke briefly about the ten-year plan of the Association, under which Greece could join the 10 most important tourist destinations in the world by 2021. The country ranks 19th at present. After ten years, tourism could contribute up to 40% of GDP and provide another 50 thousand jobs, but some prerequisites are necessary- entrepreneurship and a stable macro environment.

Andreadis urges for stabilizing the tax policy by not changing it in the long run. He also believes that it is of crucial importance to reduce VAT and improve the control mechanism of tax services. He notes that VAT on tourist services in Europe is between 5% -8%, and it is now 23% in Greece.

Besides the obvious obstacles Greek businessmen in the tourism sector must overcome, there is the lack of visibility of what Greece can present as a tourist destination, in addition to the sun and the sea.

"Greece has failed to make a brand name. We may have a reputation as a tourist destination, but it does not mean that the country has a brand name," Andreadis said. Currently, a special marketing strategy to promote the country as a tourist destination throughout the world is being developed. Due to the lack of funds, the state has largely left the initiative in the hands of private entrepreneurs, who want to make Greece a tourism brand.
Beyond the narrow national frames, Andreadis states that Europe is growing old. It is becoming a big wonderful museum, he said. He stresses that the Old Continent is no longer competitive, it does not produce and it lacks major innovations that can push it to the top of the world. However, the culture and nature of Europe will remain a permanent magnet. So, it is necessary to change the visa requirements for visitors from countries with high growth.

"Right now, no one can enter Greece with an e-visa," the president of the Association said. The country loses three million tourists due to visa difficulties. Tourists from Russia, Ukraine, China and other countries have to overcome many difficult bureaucratic procedures to be able to visit Greece either as a tourist destination or as a place to invest. He urges the state to take concrete measures to remove the heavy visa regimes in order to help tourism.

"Let us believe in the new generation and good ideas in tourism because they have real proposals to stimulate economic growth," Andreadis concluded.

"Entrepreneurship can and should play a major role in Greece’s advancement to a new era. A new model that will rely less on government and more on private sector activity," the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce Konstantinos Mihalos said in his address to the young Greek entrepreneurs. He stressed that the new economic model will rely on exports, competitiveness, better use of the country's positive qualities and human resources.
The Minister of Economy and Development Kostas Hatzidakis, who has admitted that the state can no longer create new jobs, attended the forum. The situation is not favourable, Hatzidakis said recalling the global crisis, which has grown into Europe's debt crisis and Greece has found itself at the centre of the quake.

He is clear that currently, the country has to solve two major problems associated with centralized governance and populism. Hatzidakis has said that the main task of the government is to continue to provide support funding for Greece, to repeal all regulations that hamper entrepreneurship and to create an infrastructure that will encourage new business initiatives.

The Minister did not fail to mention the liquidity problems in the country. The lack of funding is one of the main reasons for the lack of real entrepreneurship in Greece in recent years and it is also the reason for the contraction of existing business activities. "The recapitalization of the financial sector is necessary because after the debt restructuring, banks have no money to lend to the real business," Hatzidakis said. The Minister has thus responded to the common attacks that banks continue to receive financial aid, while small and medium-sized enterprises continue to fail due to lack of funding.
He explained that Greece currently relies mainly on support from Europe and the International Monetary Fund to support capital adequacy of banks. The state has agreed with the European Investment Bank on the financing of small and medium enterprises. It will gradually grant funding at a preferential interest rate by the middle of next year to stimulate the economic development of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Tags: EconomyMarketsEntrepreneurshipGreeceCrisisBusiness
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