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No Delay in New Tourism Legislation

There will be little or no delay in Greece’s new tourism legislation, according to the outgoing tourism development minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos. He said the only thing missing from the new legislation is the signature of Greece’s health minister, and “being the country’s new health minister I will rectify that quickly.”

The new legislation, which requires the signatures of 12 ministers, has been on the fire for more than eight months. Although the original idea behind the legislation was to create the foundation for spa tourism development, it has become a many-sided piece of tourism legislation.

Except for spa development, the legislation covers hotel debts, hotel classification, advertising, long-term leasing of church properties, education, privatization and the creation of new positions in the tourism ministry. It includes:

• The creation of 64 positions for the management of the tourism development ministry;

• The regulating of past due debts of hotels, which could include a discount of 50 to 80% in specific circumstances and payment could be in 40 equal installments;

• The expansion of the Committee for Casino Operation to include representation from the tourism ministry, the economy ministry and the Bank of Greece;

• The possibility of the long-term lease (99 years) of properties owned by the Church of Greece, the Church of Crete, the Holy Metropolis of Dodekanissos, the Holy Monasteries of Mount Athos of the Patriarch of Monasteries of Thessaloniki, Chalkidikis and Patmos, as well as the prime properties of the Organization of Local Authorities;

• The harmonization of tourism advertising programs of the public sector and local government with the general communication strategy of the Ministry of Tourism Development and the Greek National Tourism Organization;

• The creation of a central service for Greek National Tourism Organization Inspection Directorate;

• The required certifications for the issuance of Special Operational Permits to tourism lodgings and camping sites;

• The extension until December 31, 2006, for hotels to change their categorization to the star system;

• The possibility for tourism lodgings to implement a categorization system similar to the hotel’s star system;

• The exemption of the Casino Parnithos from paying tax to the Local Authorities until its privatization;

• The regulation of issues for the Organization of Tourism Education and Studies;

• The regulation of issues for the exploitation of properties of ETA (Hellenic Tourism properties);

• The possibility for hotels to change their business activity provided their units are over 20 years old and have not made use of government development subsidies within the last seven years;

• The possibility for the Confederation of Room and Apartment Rental Enterprises to issue to businesses a booklet with stated room prices.

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