A total of 228 hoteliers from the Pieria prefecture met on Thursday, during the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels (HCH) 2nd workshop in the town of Katerini, central Macedonia, to discuss the procedure and legal framework of the new classification system.
Organized by the HCH in collaboration with the Pieria Hoteliers Association, the event also focused on the increase in value-added tax (VAT) and the unfair competition resulting from the operation of illegal accommodation units.
“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 addressing his colleagues.
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”.
“We must first urge the state to establish rules and to curb illegal accommodation but we must also guarantee the distinct advantage of quality of our product. To this end, the HCH is launching the new classification process,” Mr Tsakiris said.
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 issue of illegal accommodation, Pieria Hoteliers Association President Evangelia Lambrou stressed the need to bolster the industry in view of the phenomenon and expressed her dissatisfaction with the imposition of new taxes. She also called on the government to support the country’s tourism product and offer incentives that will offset other problems.