Rules and regulations must apply to all equally, said Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) President Yiannis Retsos referring to the actions announced by three recently established home-sharing associations in Greece, which have joined forces to promote their common interests and ensure the quality of services offered by their members despite ongoing discontent by other hospitality providers.
“Rules for all. The operation of tourist accommodation rentals does not only concern owners and the real estate market. Once a tourist service is provided, it should be regulated in the same manner with other legal accommodation facilities which are being over-taxed,” Retsos said via his twitter account this week.
Retsos was quick to respond to a joint statement issued by the Greek Property Managers Association (PASIDA), the Greek Association of Sharing Economy (SODIA), and the Association of Owners of Furnished Apartments and Homes, which said they would be working together organizing awareness-raising actions that will promote their interests, and underlined that they do not “recognize any of the restrictions proposed by authorities as these only manage to encourage the cessation of all activity, or tax evasion”.
Hoteliers and hospitality providers have repeatedly called on the government to move ahead with a comprehensive regulatory framework that will ensure fair play and equal taxation. As a first step, the government launched late last year after many delays an online registry, calling on all short-term rental operators to list their properties. Though it is mandatory to do so, at the moment there is no way to track down who is leasing through online platforms. In the meantime, professional accommodation providers and hoteliers are being taxed for their services.
Last week however, SODIA President Theodora Dima referred to the lifesaving role home rentals (Airbnb-style rentals) have played for struggling middle class Greeks who were hit down by the economic crisis. Citing Grant Thornton data, Dima, stressed the importance of the activity which has had multiplier benefits not only for those directly involved but also for neighborhoods, businesses, and local communities.
The three bodies have requested to participate in a working committee of representatives from the economy, finance and tourism ministries announced last week at the Hellenic Property Federation (POMIDA) with regard to the implementation of restrictive measures against short-term rental operators and property owners.
At the same time, the Airbnb phenomenon is evolving into a political issue across Europe as the increasing supply of short-term rentals is leaving residents in popular European cities such as Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, and Amsterdam, seeking long-term accommodation in the lurch with rents for the few remaining homes on the market sky-rocketing.