The heads of 14 of Greece’s tourism sector unions on Wednesday outlined their positions in a meeting held between the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias. Members of SETE, the 14 unions* represent the entire tourism value chain (hotels, travel agencies, transport, marinas, MICE etc.).
During the meeting, SETE focused on the main priorities for the sector and voiced its concern for Greek tourism which is going through a second “very difficult year” due to the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The confederation’s president, Yiannis Retsos, stressed that the sector’s main priority is to extend this year’s tourism season.
On their part, the representatives of the 14 unions informed the new minister on a number of specific issues that each individual sector of the tourism economy is facing.
According to the unions, if issues are met Greece can respond to the ever-increasing competition from other country destinations and also maintain and enhance its tourism competitiveness, especially now while recovering from the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis.
More specifically, the tourism professionals informed Kikilias that the sector needs:
– to maintain the positive trend for Greece which has been confirmed by the increase in incoming tourism this year
– the Covid-19 safety rules and health protocols to be updated in a timely manner in each field of tourism
– a refreshed national strategy and new tourism products as well as their proper promotion to international markets
– the launch of targeted investments for the creation and upgrade of public infrastructure with a priority on improving Greece’s “gateways” (ports, airports and local road networks) through the Recovery Fund and the NSRF 2021-2027
– an economic policy that will be in favor of tourism enterprises – this would include the reduction of VAT on accommodation, the stabilization of the reduced VAT rate on transport (air – ferry – land), the exemption of hotels from the supplementary ENFIA property tax, the abolition of the “stayover tax” and the regulation of short-term rentals
– the adoption of a spatial and urban planning framework for tourism in accordance with the principles of sustainable development
– the upgrading of tourism education and vocational training.
On his part, Minister Kikilias assured that he is willing to work with SETE, one of Greece’s social partners, as well as with all stakeholders, in order to put tourism, “this huge and powerful machine”, back on track.
“We are here to work as a team and I believe that when this happens, the expected results will come,” the Greek tourism minister said.
Wednesday’s meeting was the first between SETE and Vassilis Kikilias since he took over the post of Greek tourism minister.
The meeting was also attended by the Greek Secretary General for Tourism Policy & Development, Vicky Loizou; SETE’s board members and the heads of INSETE and Marketing Greece.
* The pan-hellenic unions of tourism enterprises that SETE represents include HHF (Hellenic Hotel Federation), SETKE (Confederation of Entrepreneurs of Greek Tourism Enterprises), SΕΕΝ (Association of Passenger Shipping Companies), HAPCO (Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organizers), HATTA (Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies), HPYOA (Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Association), GSRA (Greek Car Rental Companies Association), GEPOET (General Pan – Hellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises), HACA (Hellenic Air Carriers Association), HATEOA (Association of Hellenic Outdoor Activities Enterprises), ELIME (Hellenic Ports Association), SΑΑΕ (Hellenic Association of Airline Representatives), GMA (Greek Marinas Association) and SYKAKEL (Association of Diving Centers of Greece).