ATHENS – As Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece’s tourism season would begin June 15 with the continued lifting of a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, there are calls for more breaks.
The measures announced by the government will help – the government said the Value Added Tax in key sectors will be cut for five months starting June 1 from 24 to 13 percent – but the head of the country’s tourism association SETE said more is needed.
There is room for “significant improvements” and initiatives in labour and tax issues, Yiannis Retsos said, proposing an extension of the VAT reduction on accommodation, tourist package services and maritime tourism.
He said more government help will be needed over the summer and into the autumn as while domestic flights are resuming that seasonal hotels in major tourism areas won’t be opening until July 1 and there’s no indication when international air traffic will pick up.
“Tourism, especially after the opening of the borders on July 1, is called upon to once again be at the forefront of the fight for Greece’s recovery,” said Retsos, Kathimerini reported.
The government measures were also welcomed by the President of Panhellenic Hoteliers Federation, Grigoris Tassios, who said there’s uncertainty how hygiene protocols will wor as it requires fewer customers, outdoor dining, tables and people further apart.
The government has ended a tax on overnight stays that hotel owners said was hurting them and driving people to other countries but Tassios said it was “the first substantial step for curbing recession and looking at the future of tourism.”
Owners and managers of cafes, bars and restaurants are scrambling to prepare their premises for reopening May 25 after being shut down for 10 weeks, since the lockdown was imposed on them.
The Hellenic Food Authority (EFET) issued a guide for owners, employees and patrons on preventing the transmission of the virus. For employers, guidelines include rotating workers and appointing someone to oversee the enforcement of measures including social distancing and hygiene regulations, Intime News said.
Employees are to be provided with masks and gloves and premises disinfected regularly while tables must be apart and people required to keep a distance of 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) although it wasn’t said how that could be enforced now.