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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-12-18

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM announces measures to boost tourism industry
  • [02] Greek close 0.46 pct down

  • [01] PM announces measures to boost tourism industry

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday announced a series of measures designed to support Greece's tourism industry, stressing the sector's crucial importance for the Greek economy.

    "The course of our economy is affected crucially and to a great extent by the course of tourism. We are determined to do everything possible in order to safeguard the things we achieved through the sacrifices of all Greeks over the past years, culminating with the organisation of the Olympic Games in 2004, when Greece succeeded in gaining international recognition as a safe and hospitable destination," he stressed.

    In addition to the measures announced on Thursday, the government was prepared to take other, additional measures if this proved necessary, he noted.

    Listing the measures decided during the earlier cabinet meeting, Karamanlis announced that spending on advertising and promoting Greece as a tourist destination will be increased by 50 percent, seeking to maintain current numbers of visitors, while the state will also increase the number of state-subsidised 'social tourism' tickets offered via the Labour Housing Organisation (OEE) by 21 percent, after last year's increase of 41 percent.

    Tourism enterprises will also be temporarily relieved from payment of a number of taxes and tariffs levied by the state for a period of one to two years.

    These include the Uniform Property Tax on buildings and land, which is reduced from 0.6 percent of the property's value to 0.033 percent for the years 2009 and 2010, a one-year suspension of a fee levied by banks on the sum of loans taken out by tourist enterprises, and a tariff levied by local government for the stay of travellers, which is reduced from 2 percent to 0.5 percent. The lost revenue for local government will be compensated for by an increase in funds from vehicle road taxes.

    In addition, local tax offices will be instructed to immediately return any VAT due.

    Other measures seek to make funding more easily available to tourism enterprises. They are made eligible for funding under the "Programme for Reinforcing Liquidity in the Economy", while the government will immediate activate the 2007-2013 National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) that provides funding for activities involving tourist infrastructure, services and enterprises. They will also be able to get start-up capital with fully subsidized interest, up to the sum of 350,000 euros, from the Guarantee Fund for Small and Micro-Enterprises.

    Priority will also be given to the payment of any subsidies due to the tourist enterprises included in the Investment Law under the Public Investment Programme.

    In terms of human and other resources, the government has decided to finally deal with the long-standing problem of regulating the operation of hotels, to convert the seasonal unemployment benefit into an employment benefit, to run a training programme combining theoretical and on-the-job training, in which the enterprises participating will be obliged to then employ 30 percent of those trained.

    Finally, Karamanlis said that particular attention would be given to boosting hotels and related enterprises in the centre of Athens that were damaged during the rioting and demonstrations of the past weeks.

    [02] Greek close 0.46 pct down

    Greek stocks eased downward on the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, ending 0.46 pct lower at the end of the day's trading. The composite index of the market ended at 1,738.49 points, with turnover a medium-to-low 162.2 million euros, of which 5.5 million euros were block trades.

    Individual sector indices mostly moved downward, with Health (8.00 pct), Travel & Leisure (5.46 pct) and Telecommunications (1.43 pct) posting the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Public Utilities (-3.34 pct), Insurance (-3.33 pct) and Banks (-3.12 pct) posted the biggest losses.

    The FTSE 20 index fell 0.90 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.74 pct up and the FTSE 80 index ended down 0.58 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 113 to 95 with another 54 issues unchanged.

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