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New Greek Tourism Strategy Presented in Parliament

Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis. Photo source: @htheoharis

Greek Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis. Photo source: @htheoharis

Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis on Sunday unveiled the Greek government’s new tourism strategy which will aim for sustainable tourism development by balancing supply, demand and creation of new infrastructure – steps to avoid overtourism.

“For us, tourism is not just percentages and numbers but it means hospitality, with an emphasis on people and the experience they live,” Minister Theoharis said while speaking during the three-day parliamentary reading of the new government’s program statements.

At the beginning of his speech, the minister said that the Greek crisis would have been far worse without the support of the tourism sector.

Photo © Greek Travel Pages

Photo © Greek Travel Pages

“From 2009 to 2018, tourism has directly generated 125 billion euros, with a multiple contribution to the country’s economic activity and GDP, while 230 million people have traveled to our country,” he said.

However, he stressed that initiatives to increase GDP from tourism must be taken.

“During the last 10 years, the number of tourists (to Greece) has increased more than the revenue from tourism has grown, proving that the state has not followed the correct policy,” he said, underlining that the government is aiming to attract tourists to spend more days in Greece and this way boost the sector’s income.

New tourism strategy: 5 pillars

During his speech, Minister Theoharis announced the details of the ministry’s new tourism strategy which consists of five pillars that will focus on:

– The creation of infrastructure and the improvement of the licensing framework for tourism investments.
– Improving the accessibility and interconnectivity of Greece by strengthening the country’s air connections and other means of transport and upgrading marinas.
– Offering a quality and attractive experience to visitors and strengthening the role of the Tourist Police.
– Re-designing the tourism product by boosting Greece’s competitiveness through the reduction of the VAT on the travel package to 13 percent from 24 percent and then to 11 percent by late 2023.
– Social and environmental sensitivity.

The minister also mentioned that the government’s new tourism strategy includes plans for the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) to operate a new digital strategy for the country’s promotion. The ministry’s strategy also includes special actions to enrich Greece’s cultural and religious tourism offerings.

Moreover, Minister Theoharis referred to properties that are being rented to tourists for the short term (Airbnb-style rentals), saying that they do “have a place in tourism” but also “have obligations”.

According to recently released data, there are currently more than 70,000 properties in Greece used for short term rental with some owners not declaring revenue from Airbnb services.

“Illegality and tax evasion will not be tolerated,” the minister warned.

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  1. George (Yardage) Poulos Reply

    Out of all the Greek Islands,only 4 have a knowledge of what customer services is all about,in the offseason the seasonal workers should attend class in customer service to receive there unemployment checks during off time. Learning to say thank you and please and enjoy your holiday must be a priority, my 33 years in Greece working in the islands in the summer and karpenise in the winter, they steal taxes with GREED, this is the story of the 95% of Greeks….. we pay to many taxes more than any other country, (they do) , but here what I know, of all my friends with business they all have told me this, they have been stealing more in the last 7 years then ever before, if they make a 1000 euro, they report and pay taxes on 200 euro, and then, they will yell and scream about paying taxes on the 200, what to do, here’s what I have been doing for the last 10 years, if they bring me a receipt that is wrong or no receipt at all, I pay with my credit card they bring me a correct receipt I usually pay in cash it’s what every person visiting Greece should do. I lived in Norway and pay taxes in Norway,( THEY PAY TAXES) Greeks pay on average 4 to 5% taxes on total income, lowest in the world.

  2. Foreign National Reply

    The new government should have included tax/social security revenue stimulation as one of its pillars. Is there a ‘silent’ policy to allow evasion in areas with a very short season? If not much more emphasis should be made to use IT to identify those who cheat on their receipts. Those who cheat use IT to warn each other of tax/social security inspections. It’s time for the Government agencies to leapfrog ahead!!

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