SETE Chief Says 2016 ‘Last-minute’ Year for Greek Tourism
Over-taxation, the elusive sharing economy, non-performing loans, and lacking incentives are the main areas that must be addressed and reformed if the Greek government wants tourism to continue to be a driving force of the economy, Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) President Andreas Andreadis said on Thursday, during the 1st Greek Tourism Conference held in Athens.
Mr Andreadis made it clear that tourism can continue to bring in cash to state coffers as long as decision-makers realize the significance of facilitating growth and not hampering it. Charges introduced this year alone have taken a 10 percent bite out of the tourist’s pocket and slashed the potential for recovery of competitiveness by 50 percent, he said.
His outlook for 2016 is reluctantly optimistic, describing it as a “last minute year” due to the inconsistency of bookings and added that the positive outcome is more due to the geopolitical events in the region rather than performance, adding that the possible positive outcome of the season will not be balanced for the whole country with a number of destinations and businesses facing losses.
SETE’s president outlined the target for 2021: 35 million arrivals and 20 billion euros in revenues for tourism, which he said can be achieved if annual investment amounts to 2 billion euros starting in 2016 with 80 percent participation of the private sector and 20 percent by the government.
In his address to the participants of the conference, jointly organized by Eurobank and SETE, he referred to the dramatic decline in domestic tourism during the crisis period, which went from 3.2 billion euros in 2008 to 1.4 billion euros in 2014, affecting regions and businesses that did not have the appropriate infrastructure, product and marketing tools, thus failing to transform their tourism product.
Representing over 50,000 tourism-related businesses in Greece, Mr Andreadis spoke of unprecedented tax measures, which will inevitably lead to the sector’s demise if decision-makers continue to burden the customer, the product and the enterprise. He also referred to the sharing economy, which he said cost the state 300 million euros annually and is virtually left uncontrolled.
SETE’s chief concluded that the government should look into securing more EU funds, which should then be directed to all tourism enterprises, small or large, in order to create infrastructure that will lead to new jobs and take Greek tourism to the next level.