The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and The Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen & Merchants (GSEVEE) are calling on the government to introduce special aid measures in order to support the North Aegean islands which have seen their tourism traffic dwindle due to the ongoing influx of refugees and migrants.
Despite the very positive projections for the 2016 tourist season, the collective bodies of tourism and related enterprises of these islands face a large drop in tourism. For example, the Lesvos stakeholders declare a drop in demand by -80%. This situation was confirmed by the decrease in airport arrivals: Lesbos (-63.2% the 1st six months), Samos (-39.0%), and Kos (-17.9%). As a result, we expect that there will be destructive effects on local economies and employment. Therefore, it is necessary to take immediate measures which will support local businesses in this emergency period and will reverse the harsh effects.
Both SETE and GSEVEE have taken initiatives in order to support the operation of SMEs in the area of the North Aegean islands.But given the general recession, the State should also take relief measures. Our assessment is that the immediate implementation of the measures below can ensure income for thousands of families and the sustainability of businesses they operate or work for.
Financial and institutional measures are being proposed to the Greek Government including between others:
- Relief policies regarding tax and social security funds issues
- Introducing favorable conditions so that businesses from these regions are included in the development law and NSRF programs (with respect to employment quotas); giving priority to these regions for eligibility in investment projects and for immediate implementation of investments
- Expansion of social tourism for 2017 on the affected areas / holiday voucher
- Offering subsidies for the modernization of accounting and electronic procedures as well as for POS terminal devices
- To formulate a communication strategy in order to promote the affected tourist destinations focusing on safety, operational excellence and the competitive advantages of these destinations
- To formulate contingency plans concerning the refugee / migrant management while considering both the developments in Turkey and the European voice
- To establish a Coordination Task Force for the implementation of the migration policy with the participation of all social bodies
- Co-management of the open accommodation centers by both the local stakeholders and the NGOs working in the areas