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Greek Tourism Confederation – SETE: New round of meetings with European officials to promote Greek tourism issues

The president of SETE, Yiannis Retsos, had a new round of meetings with European officials as part of the Confederation’s targeted activity aiming to strengthen Greek tourism’s “voice” in Brussels. 

Mr. Retsos had a working meeting today with Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president of the European Commission and commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services, and Capital Markets Union. The main subject of discussion was the need to promote a realistic and convincing plan for Greece to return to the markets. In this context, the president of SETE, Mr. Retsos, reiterated the contribution Greek tourism has made on the level of revenues, job creation and multiplying benefits for the country’s economy, focusing on, among other things, the over-taxation that has negatively impacted the competitiveness of the Greek tourism product. Characteristically, he referred to the increase in the tax rate of i) the hotel sector, from 6.5% to 13% over the past three years, ii) food and restaurants, from 13% to 24%, and iii)  the transport sector, from 9% to 24% in recent years, while neighbouring countries (Cyprus, Spain, Turkey, Croatia, and others) remain extremely attractive. “The necessary conditions for further development and strengthening of tourism can be summarized as follows: maintaining political and economic stability, shaping a realistic and stable tax framework, functioning of a flexible credit system, creation of a national regulatory environment for physical planning, and legal certainty. The tourism sector is prepared to participate actively and decisively in such a process,” Mr. Retsos stressed.

During the week, SETE president Yiannis Retsos also met with Klaus Regling, the Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism. Their discussion focused mainly on the course of the Greek economy as the end of the third programme approaches, including the primary surplus, future tax policies, progress in privatizations, and the matter of non-performing loans, particularly focusing on tourism and businesses. Mr. Retsos referred to the tourism sector as one of the key pillars supporting the Greek economy – with direct revenues of some €100 billion over the past eight years, according to the Bank of Greece – and the imperatives that must govern a modern national tourism policy.

During his first round of meetings with European officials, in the first half of 2018, the president of SETE already met with the Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, and addressed an event hosted by Declan Costello, the European Commission’s mission chief for Greece.

Moreover, heading a SETE delegation of board members visiting Brussels, Mr. Retsos met this past February with Jyrki Katainen, European Commission vice-president and commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness; Dimitris Avramopoulos, commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship; Christos Stylianides, commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management; Elżbieta Bieńkowska, commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs; and Margaritis Schinas, the chief spokesperson of the European Commission.  Additionally, the actions of SETE, the SETE Institute (INSETE) and Marketing Greece were presented at a special function organized on the initiative of Greek MEPs Elissavet Vozemberg and Miltos Kyrkos, at the European Parliament premises.

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