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There are over 50,000 illegal accommodation units in Greece

17 October 2013 / 17:10:27  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

It is expected that Greek tourism will incur losses amounting to over 1 billion euro due to properties rented without being declared as accommodation units by their owners. According to George Tsakiris, Chairman of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, the most serious is the situation in the popular tourist destinations like Mykonos and the rest of the Cycladic Islands, Crete and Rhodes.

He stated that the losses of the industry are equal to 7 - 10 per cent of revenue. In 2012 the amount was between 0.5 billion euro and 1 billion euro. According to employees in tourism, the number of illegally rented houses and villas is higher than 50,000. Tsakiris said, however, that a recently voted law which will punish the owners of the abovementioned properties with a fine of 50,000 euro would improve the situation.

At European level, the problem is serious too, as confirmed by Kent Nyström, president of HOTREC, the Confederation of National Associations of Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes and Similar Establishments in the European Union. He said that the losses of the tourism industry in Europe are equivalent to 20% of total revenue. "This phenomenon has emerged in recent years and it is the product of Internet penetration. We have no problems with competition as long as it is correct," he said.

According to the chairman of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels another important issue is the electronic booking platforms that are operating without any control. In his words, legal proceedings against their owners have been initiated in many countries, such as France and Britain.

George Tsakiris said that tourism is the industry that can stabilize the economy not only of Greece but also of Europe. In this regard, hoteliers intend to propose to the European institutions the following measures:

- Providing easier access to funding sources for companies and, in particular, for medium-sized tourism enterprises

- Reducing VAT on all tourist services

- Reducing bureaucracy

- Solving the problems related to the functioning of the electronic booking platforms.

Kent Nyström, in turn, supported the decision of the Greek government to reduce VAT in the restaurant business and urged other European countries to follow this example. "Unfortunately, some countries intend to increase it, with all the negative consequences for tourism, although all know that any increase in taxes reduces consumption. European institutions should be aware that tourism companies on the continent compete not only with each other but also with the prices in the global market."

The problems of the industry are the subject of the General Assembly of HOTREC. It is taking place in Athens due to the assumption of the Confederation’s presidency by Greece and it involves 80 chairmen of hotel and restaurant associations throughout Europe. At the end of the two-day forum, its participants will issue a manifesto containing the priorities of the industry, which will be presented to the European institutions in order for the business environment in all countries to improve.

Tags: EconomyCompaniesTourismHoteliersLllegal accommodation unitsTaxesKent NystroemGeorge Tsakiris
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