Greek PM says tax on hotel stays postponed for 2018; measure sparked criticism by sector

13 May 2016
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Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday attempted to deflect criticism by tourism sector entrepreneurs and officials by saying that a recently passed measure to slap a tax on hotel overnight stays will not be implemented this year but in 2018.

Tsipras made the statement during an address at a general assembly of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), a trade group that represents a large portion of businesses active in Greece’s all-important tourism industry, viewed as one of the few economic sectors that can pull the country quickly out of recession.

He also said the country’s institutional creditors wanted the highest VAT rate (23 percent) applied to the hospitality sector, something he claimed was avoided through negotiation.

In painting a bright picture for this year’s upcoming tourism season, the Greek premier said 2015 witnessed a banner year for tourist arrivals to the country.

In touching on an issue that has been directly cited as cause for worry by tourism professionals, especially on the eastern Aegean islands, Tsipras said the country has proved it can receive 30 million visitors “and at the same time offer shelter to thousands of displaced people”.

The statement comes amid concerns that another surge in third world refugees and migrants, arriving on Greek territories after freely disembarking from opposite Turkish coasts, will erupt over the summer months.

In terms of strictly tourism-related issues, Tsipras echoed his relevant tourism ministry officials in pointing to a goal of increasing arrivals from the (out-of-Schengen) Russian market, as well as increasing its share of the North American market, as well as developing markets such as China and India.

Turning to the main political stage, he said a conclusion of the delayed first review of the Greek program (third bailout) allows the country to enter a “growth period”. “With the agreement, Greece’s debt (relief issue) becomes a de facto issue of Europeans,” he opined.

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