The increase in value-added tax (VAT) and the unfair competition resulting from the operation of illegal accommodation units topped the agenda of a Hellenic Chamber of Hotels (HCH) meeting recently, which brought together more than 160 hoteliers and accommodation professionals to the island of Rhodes.
“The increase in VAT rates on all levels, both locally and nationally, will affect the viability of businesses, but also the country’s competitiveness,” HCH President George Tsakiris said in his opening address.
Citing the seasonality of the tourist product, Mr Tsakiris added that local enterprises will find it very difficult to absorb the increase in VAT, or even “pass it on to the consumer”.
In the meantime, a recent Grant Thornton study for the HCH found that the sharing economy in 2014 accounted for more than 20 million over night stays, 15,000 jobs and absorbed the spending of 1.5 billion tourists leading to 400 million euros lost in tax evasion.
According to the same report, these figures are estimated at being higher by 30-50 percent in 2015, while the number of legal accommodation facilities shrinks.
Referring to the positive trend in Greek tourism, Rhodes Hoteliers Association President Antonis Kambourakis said it is vital that sector professionals do not rest on their laurels, but instead pursue further education and training.
Mr Kambourakis also called on the government to support local tourism through close cooperation and offer incentives that will offset problems arising from the refugee crisis, new taxes and illegal accommodation.