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Greek Shop Owners in Tourist Areas Need Business Boost, Says Traders Body

Plaka district, central Athens

Greek shop owners operating businesses in tourist areas are calling on the government to introduce financial support measures after suffering a blow as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Citing a recent study, the Athens Traders Association is requesting that shops operating in tourist areas be considered tourist enterprises and as such be backed with special financial measures in order to be able to operate in 2021, warning that in any other case, the next tourist season will bring increased tourism, but we will find tourist shops closed and jobs lost.

Indicatively, according to the study, which was carried out on shops (83.7 percent and restaurants (16.3 percent), in the popular tourist neighborhood of Plaka, central Athens, the majority (79.1 percent) either did not open during the Covid-19 lockdowns or recorded almost no turnover during the first month of reopening.

More specifically, 71.9 percent of the enterprises did not seek financial support from the government after the coronavirus outbreak. The majority of shop owners said they either did not meet the criteria for government subsidy programs, were wary of the conditions for participation, or the programs did not serve their immediate needs.

Of the respondents, 62.1 percent said the option to extend the 40 percent reduction on rents to the end of the year was the most important factor for the viability of their business, 28.1 percent cited tax and insurance relief and 9.2 percent said financial backing through loans or NSRF programs to ensure liquidity.

The association underlined in a statement that shops at tourist destinations cover their winter expenses based on summer turnover, adding that rents in these areas are very high as are salary costs for specialized, multilingual staff.

“Given the above, it is unfortunate that many of the stores have not yet opened and we are justifiably concerned that many will not open at all during the 2020 tourist season,” the association said.

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