Sudden surges in entrance fees to popular Greek museums and archaeological sites will make the country’s travel package uncompetitive in the global market, Greek travel agents said on Wednesday.
The Federation of Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies (FEDHATTA) has voiced concern in regards to the decision of the Central Archaeological Council on Tuesday to approve a Culture Ministry proposal and increase entrance prices for popular museums and archaeological sites in Greece as of January 1, 2016.
The new prices would apply from April to November, with a 50 percent discount for the winter season.
According to the decision, some museums and sites will see price hikes of 50 to 100 percent.
FEDHATTA sent a letter to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Culture Ministry requesting that the decision be reviewed as such price hikes should not be enforced abruptly.
The federation underlines that Greece’s entrance fees to its archaeological treasures are in fact cheaper compared to similar European and global museums and sites, but insists that the increases should gradually take place over a three-year period so as to allow time for the smooth functioning of the market.
The federation said that contracts for the summer season 2015 have already been signed and include visits to the country’s museums and sites based on the current prices.
“The value-added tax (VAT) hikes on all goods and tourism services (hotels, tourist transport, restaurants, etc.) as well as the announced increases to the ticket prices of museums and archaeological sites, burden the travel package so much that it will become uncompetitive in the end”, FEDHATTA’s president, Lysandros Tsilidis, said.
He added that Greece is in danger of being excluded by international tour operators who will turn their attention to more competitive destinations such as Croatia, Spain and Italy.
FEDHATTA also noted that Greek travel agencies cannot afford to absorb the huge increases in entry fees as they have already absorbed the VAT hike on all tourist services in the midst of the season.