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Economy

Greece’s Reopening Opens Door Again for Skilled Digital Nomads

ATHENS — Right behind tourists who are expected to come in greater numbers this summer to Greece will be digital nomads, people with special skills that let them work on computers remotely from anywhere in the world, the New Democracy government wanting to lure more.

Greece opened to tourists with proof of COVID-19 vaccinations, negative tests or who have recovered from the Coronavirus and the hopes are that the nomads who can work anywhere in the world will be eager to come as well, said Euronews.

“The beauty of Greece is its hundreds of islands where overtourism isn't a problem. Even better, some of them are already COVID-free,” the site said, noting the government's program to create island oases without any infections.

The Parliament in 2020, when the pandemic was hitting hard, provided a 50 percent tax break for seven years for them among incentives aimed at ironically getting foreigners with technological skills after a near decade-long economic crisis had driven thousands of young Greeks away to other lands.

Alex Patelis, Chief Economic Adviser to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the site why they should come: "Greece is naturally blessed with a temperate climate, lots of sunshine, and a combination of beaches and mountains,” he said.

He said other advantages are "a strong currency, the euro, and the safety of the EU institutional framework,” and that the government is trying to accelerate 5G networks in a country that had lagged in Internet speeds.

In February, as the pandemic raged anew, the government said it was planning a special visa to attract the digital nomads after an agreement reached between Greece’s Ministers of Migration and Foreign Affairs to help remote workers through this new innovative trend, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

“We must create an organized, attractive environment for people that choose this advanced way of working,” Migration and Asylum Minister Notis Mitarachis pointed out.

Some 22 of the European Union’s 27 members are in the Schengen Area which abolished international borders to allow for visa-free and unrestricted movement between them, apart from Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Cyprus and Ireland.

Mitarachi said the digital nomad visa could be combined with tax incentives, which would attract permanent investments Greece is seeking to help spur an economic recovery if the pandemic ends.

In December 2020, Greece introduced legislation that includes encouraging tax treatment of nationals of foreign countries who wish to transfer their tax residence to Greece if they invest in the country.

The tax initiative would tax only half the income for those who are self-employed in positions created in 2021. As for now, the country applies a tax rate of 44 percent for earnings over 40,000 euros ($48.955,) which is prohibitive.

He earlier told the newspaper Proto Thema, “We must create an organized and at the same time attractive environment for the mass arrival of people who choose this technologically advanced form of employment."

The introduction of a special purpose residence permit, "a digital visa", as he characterized it, "will be combined with tax facilities that will lead to more permanent investments,” it's hoped.

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