“Our aim for the tourism sector is to make Greece a powerful brand name in Europe,” Greece’s center-right New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday while addressing the 25th general assembly of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE).
During his speech at SETE’s annual event, the opposition leader presented the five key pillars of New Democracy’s tourism policy that include attracting investment, reducing tax rates, focusing on sustainable development, creating tourism products of added value and promoting the country more effectively.
Referring to himself an “ally” to the Greek tourism sector, the opposition leader mentioned the policies carried out by the ND government in 2012-2014, underlining that back then there was a “comprehensive strategic policy for tourism” in Greece.
“All of our interventions at the time proves that when a government rules and has a plan for change, it shows immediately,” Mitsotakis stressed.
He added that when New Democracy was in power there had also been an increase in arrivals and revenues in Greece and that immediately after (when the left-led Syriza-Anel government was elected) the country’s tourism sector was left on autopilot.
“Capital controls and overtaxation cut off the momentum,” Mitsotakis said, highlighting the fact that last year, although arrivals to Greece increased, tourism receipts dropped by 6.5 percent, as well as the average spending per visitor declined.
According to the opposition leader, the value-added tax (VAT) increase on accommodation, food sector, transport and the stayover tax have all made the country’s tourism product more expensive and reduced its competitiveness. He added that the logic of extra taxes will damage the Greek tourism market.
“The government has shown indifference to tourism and overall on how to attract investments,” he said, adding that a clear plan for tourism development by attracting investments was needed for Greece.