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A slump in tourism unless an agreement is reached with the creditors

14 June 2015 / 18:06:26  GRReporter
1762 reads

Greek tourism this season, and consequently the economy and jobs in their entirety, are threatened by a perilous cocktail of adverse factors.

If no agreement is reached with the partners, the political uncertainty in the country is going to linger on. This does not only frustrate growth in tourist bookings from major markets, but also leads to cancellations of bookings that have already been made. At the same time, the accommodation of thousands of refugees in popular Aegean islands and the high profile the process gained across foreign media, has given a further boost to cancellations for these destinations.

The delayed agreement has already caused a decline in profits from bookings made on the German market, for instance. Hence, the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies (HATTA) doubts the achievement of positive results in Greek tourism this year, despite initial expectations for a new record of 25 million visitors and revenues of €14 billion.

Unless the agreement is achieved right away, the leakage of bookings to neighbouring destinations halts, and VAT remains on a par with that of competitors.

Along with the broken rhythm of bookings, haphazard cancellations were seen from markets like the German, Croatian, Romanian and Czech ones, as well as a small reduction of planned flights to Greece by some foreign airlines.

Recently, some Aegean islands – mostly those which have taken the largest number of refugees – have seen the highest number of cancelled bookings. E.g., hotels in Kos have lost an estimated 2,500 overnight stays.

The largest share of the improving performance of Greek tourism is due to swelling visits to Athens, Santorini and Mykonos as recognizable luxury brands on the international tourism market.

Rented rooms and apartments have suffered intense pressure recently, with some areas seeing a 50% decline. Thousands of illegal accommodations are being offered both in Athens and elsewhere.

The illegal accomodations are a huge source of tax evasion. HATTA has launched an electronic verification process in an attempt to clamp down on them.

The results will be submitted to the competent authorities. Local tourism organisations also insist on such measures. For example, the B&B and alternative tourism federation of Epirus has sent to the ministry of economy, infrastructure, shipping and tourism a letter saying: "Across coastal tourist spots in the prefectures of the Ionian Sea, Preveza and Thesprotia, especially in Parga and Sivota, a host of illegal places of accommodation, e.g. houses and villas, keep doing business without having a licence from the Greek Tourist Organisation and without paying taxes." The Federation seeks the ministry’s help in its attempts to combat the illegal operators amid the high season.

Tags: tourism bookings cancellation decline illegal accommodations tax evasion
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