Greek hoteliers angry at Airbnbs inclusion in ‘Tourism for All’ program

Greek hoteliers slam government’s decision to include Airbnb-style accommodations in its annual report “Tourism for All” Program which subsidizes holidays for low-income families.

Greece’s hotel and hotel associations say the decision creates unfair market conditions and reiterate their call on the government to take immediate action and regulate short-term rentals.

In addition, they demand that in addition to transparency in terms of taxation, Airbnb-type accommodations be subject to the same rules as hotels, in terms of safety, cleanliness and labor rights.

“Hotels operate under specific laws, must obtain specific licenses and meet specific specifications for which they are strictly controlled by the state to ensure the level of services provided to customers according to the category of accommodation” , said Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX) President Grigoris Tasios.

Grigoris Tasios, President of the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers.

“If the Greek state wishes to include short-term rentals in the country’s tourism product, it must first formulate a clear regulatory framework that will exclude the possibility of illegal accommodation operating under the guise of short-term rentals,” said said Tasios, adding that a legislative framework must be put in place ensuring the minimum level of services provided, hygiene and safety as well as specific tax obligations similar to those that apply to legally authorized companies.

In the same vein, the Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Companies (SETKE)which represents some 33,000 small accommodation establishments including room renters and their local federations, said on Monday that the decision to subsidize Airbnbs under the Tourism for All program is unfair and “rewards short-term rentals that are not subject to any legislative framework, do not comply with health and safety rules, are not financially burdened with obligations towards the State, contrary to what applies to legal tourist accommodation providers”.

“We urge the Ministry of Tourism to reconsider the inclusion of short-term rentals in the “Tourism for All” program, or request that these rentals operate under the same terms and conditions as other hospitality establishments with the issuance of ‘a special operating license,’” SETKE said.

Echoing Tasios, the Athens-Attica and Argosaronic Hotel Association (EXAAA) also issued a statement on Monday expressing its displeasure with the decision.

“The government’s decision to continuously and variously support and strengthen short-term rentals instead of restricting them and setting conditions and specifications for their operation, troubles and worries us,” EXAAA said, adding that Legally operating hotel service providers in Athens have had to contend with the uncontrolled operation of Airbnb-like facilities over the past decade.

The association goes on to add that it “expects ministries of tourism and finance, regional authorities and municipalities and all relevant agencies and departments to cooperate, to understand the issues that have impacted on tourism and hospitality in Athens over the past decade” and that they are taking responsible action. towards create a level playing field.

Earlier this year, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE)representing the majority of Greek tourism businesses, reiterated its call on the government to take immediate action and change the law that covers short-term rental transactions to ensure fair play and protect businesses that pay taxes. Among other things, he has proposed VAT, a special municipal tax, an ownership cap and rental term limits as ways to regulate Airbnb-like activities that he says distort healthy competition in the marketplace.

Over the past decade, Airbnbs across Greece have mushroomed, initially as way for Greeks affected by the crisis to earn a living. Today, entire neighborhoods of Athens have become exclusively short-term rental areas. That time lively Psyrri district in Athens is one example, coming back to life as more buyers invest there in short-term rentals, boutique hotels and lodging establishments.

As an indication, in March 2022, reservations for Airbnbs across Greece for the summer are up 232% placing Greece in the lead in Europe in terms of overall booking performance.

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