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Economy

Tourism Bookings Low, Greece Offers Incentives to Hotel Operators

ATHENS – While airline and tourist package companies expect Greece will have  a booming summer of foreign visitors, low numbers of reservations for May and June have kept hotels and some companies from opening but they'll be getting help from the New Democracy government.

That includes extending the program that entails the suspension of employment contracts until the end of June while a labor subsidy program which covers the insurance contributions paid by employers will continue until the end of September, said Kathimerini.

A platform will also be opened through which the subsidy will be granted to those companies that saw a drop in turnover of more than 30 percent in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic raged compared to 2019.

The lingering Coronavirus is slowly being beaten back by vaccinations that are still far behind schedule but Greece opened to tourists on May 15, those who are fully inoculated or not infected.

The government is still awaiting decisions from the European Commission before it can use bloc financing to further help the tourism sector which brings in as much as 18-20 percent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 164.4 billion euros ($200.3 billion).

Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis stated that when this tourism boosting program gets under way, “it will be very difficult for a hotelier not to open,” even as they had already received huge government subsidies while closed during lockdowns.

Many tourism companies, even large hotels and resorts with staffs of hundreds of workers have been reluctant to open until the summer with the spring bookings still low to take off even as the weather gets warmer.

That's also affecting businesses which rely on them and is seen as blocking the government's hopes to persuade people that Greece is safe, after conducting the biggest ad campaign in years.

Guides and tour guides will receive special purpose compensation for the months of March, April and May, the report said of the effort.

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