“Tourist accommodation facilities, most of which are small or family-run businesses, breathe life into local economies and communities, especially on small islands and in remote mountainous areas, and which are now dynamically entering the tourist map,” said Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura during the annual Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Enterprises (SETKE) conference last week.
Kountoura referred to ministry efforts to safeguard small and medium-sized businesses active in room or apartment rentals, underlining the importance in this direction of the new legal framework while stressing that these ventures are the “heart” of Greek hospitality, which has gained so much praise worldwide.
“Immediate contact with visitors is a key component of the genuine holiday experience which we invite visitors to live in Greece. And the personal relationship that you foster encourages travelers to choose our country again, to become repeat visitors,” said Kountoura.
Among others, the minister referred to legal changes aimed at boosting and protecting small and medium-sized tourism businesses including upgrading the optional ranking system for rented rooms and apartments to include five categories; the introduction of new technical, operational and certification specifications based on international quality standards; increasing capacity to 30 rooms from the current 20 thus enabling eligibility for EU funding programs; making classification certification procedures easier now carried out through regional tourism services, local chambers and one-stop shops; supporting SETKE’s Breakfast Basket initiative which links tourism to the primary sector, supporting local production and creating added value for the tourist product.
Minister Kountoura said the ministry would be moving ahead in the upcoming period with extending deadlines for classification and added that backing SMEs in tourism was a top priority, pointing to a budget of over 710 million euros which is slated to go to ventures seeking to modernize or for the creation of new facilities.