By Maria Paravantes
A long-awaited tourism draft bill covering everything, from the regulation of Airbnb rentals and hotel condos to the operation of online tourist agencies (OTAs) and the concession of marinas has opened for public debate. The draft was posted on Monday, in the government’s online OpenGov platform through to January 5, 2018.
Titled “Modifications for the Modernization of the Institutional Framework Regulating the Tourism Sector”, the 31-article bill aims to lay out the guidelines and bring legislation covering tourism-related issues up to date and in line with international standards in view of the sector’s leading role as a driver of the economy.
Main points of the draft include:
– extending the age limits on vehicles available for rental to 12 years from the date of first use from the current seven years
– setting the conditions for the establishment and operation of private car rental companies
– laying out the guidelines for short-term rental of residential property by private individuals
– regulating hotel and camping sites that include special interest tourist infrastructure but cannot be licensed due to gaps in the current legal framework
– establishing the tourist guide profession
– setting the terms for the establishment of new and/or operation of tourist agencies
– launching a tourist info office at the Heraklio airport on Crete
– rectifying issues concerning eight professional tourism schools/teaching staff/curriculum
More specifically, with regard to the operation of condo hotels, a seven-member committee will be set up to oversee and research tourism data as well as deadlines, licensing and permit issues.
As far as Airbnb-style ventures are concerned, a provision defining the rental of property for less than 30 days as a tourist lease has been abolished as it comes in contrast to the full release of property leases as foreseen by Greece’s bailout requirements.
Additionally, travel agencies will – if the draft law is passed – be able to provide tourist guide services. Sector insiders expect this issue to create controversy between agency owners and tour guides. At the same time, due to the growth of online travel providers, agency owners wishing to operate online will be required to convert their business identity to Online Travel Agent (OTA) and issue a 5,000 euro Letter of Guarantee.
To see the tourism draft bill (in Greek), press here.