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EU Task Force Head Discusses Greek Tourism

Horst Reichenbach, head of the Task Force of the European Commission in charge of providing technical assistance to Greece.

Horst Reichenbach, head of the Task Force of the European Commission in charge of providing technical assistance to Greece.

The extension of the Greek tourism season was one of the main issues discussed yesterday, 24 October, by Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and Horst Reichenbach, head of the Task Force of the European Commission in charge of providing technical assistance to Greece.

The tourism minister briefed Mr. Reichenbach on the changes and reforms taking place in the country to make Greece a “strong competitive tourism force.”

The meeting also included discussions for the best use of EU funds during this financial year and the next, investments and ways the task force could assist Greece.

“What is important is that we are requesting technical assistance and I believe we can learn from the good practices and expertise of other countries,” Mrs. Kefalogianni told the media after the meeting.

The tourism minister underlined that the ministry’s goal was to lessen the country’s seasonality and that in some areas of the country, medical and wellness tourism could help solve the problem. Foreign tourism in Greece is affected by seasonality with intense concentration in summer.

On a separate issue, when asked about the VAT rate on food catering services, she commented that its reduction is a “permanent request” of the Tourism Ministry so Greece could become more competitive.

“The VAT on food catering services should be reduced first and then a reduction of the VAT on travel packages should follow, but this will happen when the economic conditions allow it,” she told Greek journalists.

It is reminded that the VAT on food catering services (restaurants, cafeterias, canteens and hotel restaurants) increased last September from 13 to 23 percent (a 77 percent hike). On many occasions, restaurant owners and tourism professionals said the VAT hike reduced the competitiveness of the country’s tourism product thus making Greek tourism more expensive.

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