Urging a united front on all issues involving the sector, the head of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels (HCH) George Tsakiris made it clear that “tourism is an affair that affects us all” during the chamber’s 5th general assembly held at Athens’ Metropolitan Expo center on Friday, February 12.
More than 1,000 hoteliers gathered, together with Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis, among other government officials, to share ideas and find ways to deal with the challenges ahead.
Minister Stathakis referred to the tourism sector’s major contribution to the national economy and noted its resilience, adding that it stands as a fine example of an expanded outlook, innovation and competitiveness.
Mrs Kountoura, meanwhile, said her ministry would in the coming weeks announce government measures that will deal with illegal accommodation facilities as well as the thorny issue of economy sharing. The implementation of the said measures, Mrs Kountoura said, would involve concerted efforts by both the finance and the economy, development & tourism ministries.
“Our goal is to create a comprehensive legal framework that will not hinder activity, but will effectively tackle tax evasion, undeclared work, social security contribution evasion, unfair competition, non-compliance with safety and health standards,” Mrs Kountoura said.
Among HCH demands as presented by Mr Tsakiris were the settlement of “red” loans and mortgages in arrears for tourism businesses, the immediate implementation of a viable and effective development law which is conducive to private investment, the allotment of new NSRF funds for the modernization of SMEs, and dealing with the ENFIA property tax on hotels.
Mr Tsakiris concluded that it was too early to make any projections for tourism this year. “It is a year of many opportunities but also one of many risks.”