Greece’s travel agents have joined other tourism trade associations in calling on the government to reassess a new development law recently tabled in parliament, which does not include their area of activity in its provisions.
The Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourist & Travel Agencies (fedHATTA) has joined the General Panhellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises (GEPOET) and the Hellenic Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Entrepreneurs (SETKE), which are calling on Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias and Alternate Development & Investments Minister Nikos Papathanasis to include their services in the new law which foresees among others support and tools for upgrade and modernization activities. FedHATTA says inclusion is a matter of viability.
FedHATTA President Lysandros Tsilidis brought the issue up during a parliamentary committee meeting this week on the new development law. Tsilidis called for the inclusion of travel agent services in the law, noting that the sector has been hit hard by the Covid-19 health crisis.
He argued that the law should cover all services making up the tourism product; everything from hotels and rooms to let to agencies responsible for inbound and outbound tourism, organizers of incentive trips, conferences, cruise tourism, sailing trips, thematic tourism and travel agents, who also own tourist bus services.
He went on to stress that for more than 20 years, travel agents have been left out of all development laws and relevant funding opportunities, adding that there can be no talk of transitioning to a sustainable tourism model and upgraded facilities, without including travel agents.
“The development law appears to have overseen the fact that we [travel agents] do not invest in real estate and land but in services and technology, supporting the digital upgrade of the industry,” said Tsilidis.
“It is absolutely necessary for the development ministry to come back with a different solution to support small and medium-sized enterprises – and the jobs that are associated with them – which are at the core of the tourism product.
In the meantime, after sending a letter to the two ministers this week, GEPOET is now calling on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to resolve the new law’s “injustices and distortions”.
It should be mentioned that the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) had also called on the government to include 3-star hotels in the new law. In response to SETE’s call, the Greek tourism minister confirmed that modifications had been made to the law which now include the country’s 3-star hotels.