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Kountoura Takes Stand Against Creditors’ Measures for Greece, Calls for Protection of Sector

Greek Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.

Greek Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura (archive photo).

Taking a direct stand against the measures proposed by Greece’s international lenders, Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura invited Greeks to take the responsibility of the country’s future in their hands ahead of the upcoming referendum on July 5.

Speaking at a plenary session on Sunday, Ms Kountoura stressed that the said measures will inevitably lead the country’s driving force, tourism, into extinction, saying that she cannot accept the proposed VAT increase to 23 percent on July 1 for overnight stays and the elimination of the 30 percent reduced rate applicable to the islands as foreseen by the Greek Constitution.

The minister was quick to point out that thousands of small tourism enterprises across the country have been struggling in these past five years to remain above water despite the difficult measures, contributing in the meantime a total of 20 percent to the country’s GDP and creating 750,000 jobs.

“As such we must shield and protect tourism,” she said. “Greece is need of support measures and not extermination manoeuvres.”

Ms Kountoura added that despite the ongoing “persecution” of Greece in the international media, Greek destinations managed to win over millions of tourists yet again, citing incoming passenger traffic, which rose by 39.1 percent in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2014, and growing tourist revenues up by 14.4 percent in the same period.

Ms Kountoura addressed the Greek people but also all fellow Europeans, warning that the measures required by the country’s international creditors will only lead to the Greek people to poverty.

“In times like these, we do not need rash decisions,” she said.

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