Regulation, implementation, and supervision of the short-term rental market in Greece are crucial to maintaining balance in the tourism sector, said Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) President Yiannis Retsos in an op-ed published in Greek daily Naftemporiki.
At the same time, Retsos underlines the need to move ahead with taxation policies that are fair for all market players. In Greece, Retsos notes, hoteliers are faced with extremely high tax demands compared to owners leasing out their properties short-term.
Referring to the launch late last month of an electronic registry for Airbnb-style rentals by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue (AADE), Retsos is calling on the government and all tourism stakeholders to join forces and follow in the steps of other destinations worldwide that are collaborating with sharing platforms to ensure that fair play is being maintained, to tackle illegal operations and to stem tax evasion.
“In Greece, the phenomenon should be treated as an activity that needs regulation, since – under certain conditions – it can be complementary to the shaping of the tourist product and bring revenue to the state,” Retsos says, adding that “more and more destinations worldwide are reaching agreements with platforms operating in the field of the sharing economy for direct taxation, for provision of information and for cross-checking short-term leases by tax authorities”.
The head of SETE goes on to note that Greece should charge a tourist tax for each overnight stay or for Airbnb-style bookings as is being done by other popular destinations across the globe including Naples, Lisbon, and Porto.
Retsos concludes that it is time Greece take action to ensure fair play and put in place a regulatory framework that will cover emerging issues affecting long-term rents, construction practices, neighbourhood balance, in view of the sharing economy phenomenon, which is international and bound to claim a large part of the tourism market in the future.
To achieve the best result, all stakeholders: government, municipalities, regions, and tourism sector professionals must join forces, exchange views, make decisions and implement them.