ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Aidipsos, Evia. Archive photo: Visit Greece / Y. Skoulas

A new measure that reduces leasing charges for seaside property is aimed at offering additional relief to tourism and F&B enterprises impacted by the deadly fires on Northern Evia last summer.

The sum reduced by 10 percent was announced by Christos Triantopoulos, minister responsible for recovery from natural disasters, and applies to the use of seashore and beach areas in Mandoudi, Limni, Agia Anna and Istiaia-Edipsos – all hit by the destructive fires.

“This additional measure aims to address the problems caused by last year’s wildfires to the economy of Northern Evia and in particular to the tourism sector. At the same time, the implementation of horizontal support measures continues,” said Triantopoulos, adding that property owners in Northern Evia are exempt from ENFIA property tax payments for 2022.

General view of the burnt forest in the mountain near the village of Avgaria on Evia island. Copyright European Union 2021 / Photographer: Sotiris Dimitropoulmos

Last August, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that Evia residents and business owners impacted by the devastating fires that ravaged the island for nine days would be receiving financial support. Among others extensive infrastructure upgrades, road network improvements, forest regeneration and the development of tourism facilities are among the key priorities set out in the plan for the regeneration of Northern Evia.

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Photo source: Olympia Odos SA

After a series of long delays, construction on one of the country’s most dangerous highways in Greece, the 74.5km Patra – Pyrgos section of the Olympia Odos Motorway will be completed by the end of 2024 or early 2025, said Greek Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis on Thursday, during the launch of works on the project.

“The new Patra-Pyrgos highway demonstrates that we provide solutions in the interest of many,” said Karamanlis announcing the start of works at the Amaliada construction site. “The new roadway means road safety, new jobs, quality of life and a better daily routine for the residents and visitors of the area,” he added. 

The Olympia Odos Motorway connects Attica with the western Peloponnese and ports linking the mainland with popular islands such as Zakynthos and Kefalonia. Last year, the Commission approved under EU state aid rules Greek public funding of around 217 million euros for the construction of the motorway.

Greek Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis.

Greek Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis.

The new roadway will allow speeds of up to 120km/h and will include an Operation and Maintenance Center, a Traffic Management Unit and a police station. Two main and two regional toll stations are set to operate with charges of 0.063 cents per kilometer.

The project will be implemented by Olympia Odos Motorway which has been awarded the concession for a period of 23 years or to the end of 2044. Under the contract, the state will contribute 216.6 million euros and Olympia Odos will finance the project with a total of 116 million euros.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis

The ambitious road project is expected to boost economic activities and support investment and job creation in Western Greece and the Peloponnese by improving the interoperability, accessibility and safety of the road network as well as securing access to these areas and thus contributing to tourism growth.

“The project will be completed by mid-2025. There will be close monitoring by the ministry and the region in order to meet the schedules. A state-of-the-art highway will now connect Patra with Pyrgos and we will meet our commitment for this road to reach Olympia,” said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who attended the event. 

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

The Delphi Economic Forum 2022 is returning to the historic town of Delphi in central Greece for its seventh edition that will take place as a live event during April 6-9.

The forum in 2020 was held online due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, while in 2021 it took place in hybrid form in Athens.

This year, the forum returns to Delphi with some confirmed 760 speakers from 36 countries.

“We are happy to return to Delphi after the unfortunate events of the last couple of years,” Delphi Economic Forum President Symeon Tsomokos told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.

“We have 314 speakers coming from abroad… This means that Delphi Forum is not a Greek event any more… it has taken an international dimension,” he added.

Delphi Economic Forum President Symeon Tsomokos

Under the title “New Realities”, the 7th Delphi Economic Forum will host prominent personalities from the field of politics including European presidents, prime ministers, EU commissioners and ministers as well as scientists, university professors, entrepreneurs and many more.

Among them are United Nations Secretary-General in Geneva Tatiana Valovaya; European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis; OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann; and International Energy Agency Deputy Executive Director Mary Burce Warlick.

Furthermore, the forum will host Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Hellenic Republic President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.

The agenda of the four-day forum includes panel discussions on the global impact of the pandemic as well as on the consequences of the Ukraine – Russia crisis for Europe and the rest of the world.

Discussions will evolve around the following topics:

– International security
– Global economy
– Climate crisis
– EU: The future of Europe
– Technological change and economic transformation
– Greece: The course towards strong and stable recovery
– People and society

Tourism and culture

Tourism and culture will also be on the forum’s agenda with discussions focusing on the recovery efforts, growth opportunities and ongoing investments.

Furthermore, during the forum, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) will present the results of its ongoing survey titled “Greek Tourism 2030 | Action Plans” that is jointly conducted by Deloitte – Remaco on behalf of its research body INSETE. The first part of the survey was released to the public in December 2021.

The Delphi Economic Forum will take place in accordance with the latest health protocols announced by Greek authorities.

The forum’s sessions will be broadcast online free of charge at www.delphiforum.gr (registration is required).

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

In efforts to relieve struggling Greeks hit hard by spiraling energy costs, the government announced a set of relief measures on Thursday, including a fuel rebate and an electricity bill subsidy for some 1.4 million qualifying households with an annual income of up to 30,000 euros.

More specifically, according to Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, the aid is set to support approximately 3.2 million people impacted by increasing fuel and energy costs and will cover the months of April, May and June.

These are:

– a three-month rebate on fuel with the use of an e-card (40 euros for mainland residents and 50 euros for island residents) aimed at mitigating the soaring cost of gas. Applicable for eligible citizens, professionals and business owners. A relevant platform for applications is set to open in April

– an average 72-euro power bill subsidy for April. This also applies to businesses

– additional support for each child to eligible families

– subsidies to eligible pensioners, uninsured seniors, the disabled, taxi drivers and farmers

– a reduction in heating fuel

– payment deferments.

Greek Finance Minister Christos Staikouras (left)

It should be noted that eligible parties are only tax-paying Greek citizens with a declared family income of up to 30,000 euros

“The government is proceeding with a new package of measures focusing on the most vulnerable, those who are most in need,” said Staikouras.

“We are offering emergency assistance to 1.4 million households in order to cover a part of the increasing prices of goods and energy,” he said. The aid is expected to be paid before Orthodox Easter.

“The electricity subsidy to households and businesses is significantly increased and the gas subsidy continues, while an emergency electricity subsidy is given to small businesses,” Staikouras added.

Since September, Greece has already channeled 2.5 billion euros into support programs for households, businesses and farmers.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Photo source: @PrimeMinisterGr

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the fresh round of state assistance budgeted at 1.7 billion euros on Wednesday. He said it complements lowered property taxes (ENFIA) and a second increase in the minimum wage scheduled for May.

He is expected to meet his counterparts from Spain, Italy, and Portugal in Rome on Friday to discuss the energy crisis and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

The National Theater of Rhodes will be fully restored and operational by the end of 2025, Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni announced last week.

Following a meeting on Friday with South Aegean Governor George Hatzimarkos and Rhodes Mayor Antonis Kabourakis, Mendoni said the project’s tender will launch within the first six months of 2022.

Budgeted at 17.23 million euros, the project will be financed by the Greek Culture Ministry with 16.8 million euros to be allocated from the Recovery Fund. The South Aegean Region and the Rhodes Municipality will contribute with 400,000 euros and 35,000, respectively.

According to Mendoni, the ministry has approved the project’s preliminary designs, while the technical report for its financing has already been submitted to the Recovery Fund.

“Our aim is not only to restore this monument but also to ensure its reopening under modern standards and capabilities,” she said.

South Aegean Governor George Hatzimarkos, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni and Rhodes Mayor Antonis Kabourakis

A center of culture

The National Theater of Rhodes was built in the 1930s, based on the designs of architect Armando Bernabiti, and operated under the name “Teatro Giacomo Puccini”.

The last major renovation took place in the 1970s, and altered the building’s inner gallery as well as its acoustics.

The theater was declared a preserved building in 1986. Since then it has suffered several damages.

The restoration project is expected to transform the building into a center of culture complete with theater, dance and music halls, as well as halls for permanent and periodic exhibitions, multipurpose spaces, a shop and a recreation area.

The project also foresees landscaping works in the surrounding area, with the creation of sidewalks and the theater’s unification with the adjacent archaeological excavation, the nearby Municipal Theater and the “Rodon” open-air movie theater.

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Greeks are worried about the impact of the Russia-Ukraine crisis on Greece’s economy, according to the results of a recent poll conducted by Pulse for SKAI TV.

Pulse carried out the second part of its poll after February 24 – the day of the Russian invasion.

According to its findings, 80 percent of respondents said they were very concerned “overall and particularly about the Greek economy”.

Energy price hikes concern Greeks

The increase of energy prices also concerns Greeks. However, there does not seem to be a single estimate as to whether external causes or internal reasons are primarily responsible for the surge of energy prices:

– 47 percent of respondents estimate the main reasons to be “external – international issues”
– 35 percent cites “government management or failures ”
– 9 percent refer to “domestic issues and weaknesses of the country”.

Regarding the government’s measures and initiatives:

– 47 percent of respondents consider them to be towards the “wrong direction” while,
– 42 percent say “more measures are needed”.

Meanwhile, 25 percent of the ruling New Democracy party’s voters consider the government’s measures to be “wrong”.

Also, 51 percent of respondents evaluate the stance of the opposition SYRIZA party negatively.

Voting intention in Greece

Photo source: Ministry of Interior

Despite their overall concern, most respondents do not wish for Greece to proceed with early elections:

– 47 percent would prefer the elections to take place in 2023 and until the end of the government’s term
– 26 percent think it is better to hold the general elections by this summer and
– 19 percent wish for Greece to hold general elections until the end of the year.

In addition, 40 percent select New Democracy President Kyriakos Mitsotakis as most suitable for prime minister while 25 select SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras.

Voting intention for New Democracy is at 33.5 percent and for SYRIZA at 23.5 percent.

Regarding Covid-19, 66 percent of respondents positively evaluate the Greek government’s recent decisions, while one in two believe now is the right time to ease measures.

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Airspace over and around Ukraine at 06:00 UTC time, today. Source: Flightradar24

The Ukraine government announced that it had closed its airspace to civilian flights on Thursday “due to potential hazard for civil aviation” after Russia launched an attack on the eastern part of the country earlier today.

The European Union Air Safety Agency also advised avoiding Ukrainian airspace, including its borders with Belarus and Russia due to military operations.

Earlier today, AEGEAN airlines flight A3 880 headed to Moscow was ordered to return to Athens.

In view of the developments, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis convened a National Security Council (KYSEA) meeting to examine the consequences of the Russian invasion and the imminent rise in energy prices.

“Russia’s attack on Ukraine dramatically puts the global community in front of its responsibilities. As a member of the EU and of NATO, we are coordinating with our partners so that our reaction is collective, but also corresponding to the unprecedented Russian provocation,” said Mitsotakis.

At the same time, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said there was great concern and that he hoped a diplomatic solution would be found.

Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias. Photo: Dimitris Papamitsos / Greek Prime Minister's Office

Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias. Photo: Dimitris Papamitsos / Greek Prime Minister’s Office

Speaking to public television ERT, Kikilias said it was too early to assess the potential impact the Russia-Ukraine crisis may have on the tourism sector, but added that already the issue of energy costs would impact travel and the industry, while at the same time lead to a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine which will affect all of Europe.

“Clearly these developments affect global stability, as did the pandemic. We are still far from assessing the extent to which this will affect the tourism industry,” he said.

Meanwhile, dozens of foreign airlines have suspended Ukraine flights.

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Photo source: @PrimeMinisterGR

Tourism and the food & drink industry will take the Greek economy to the next level, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during the HORECA trade show held at the Metropolitan Expo in Athens over the weekend.

“A new, significant development cycle is ahead of us driven by the tourism and F&B sector, which are always very important for the Greek economy. We will be able to leave behind the two difficult years of the pandemic,” he said. 

The live HORECA event attracted this year more than 550 exhibitors representing the hospitality, foodservice and tourism sectors and over 100,000 visitors.

Photo source: @PrimeMinisterGR

During his visit to HORECA exhibitors, Mitsotakis said there was keen investor interest for projects which would create jobs, particularly ahead of a “very good tourism season”. 

“We’ve left behind the difficulties and are moving forward toward better things,” the prime minister said after sampling local products on show and visiting exhibitors accompanied by Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zacharaki.

During the show, Mitsotakis also expressed his satisfaction that the conference and events sector had restarted and that there was positive energy reflecting the upcoming period.

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Photo source: @PrimeMinisterGR

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Wednesday that ENFIA single property tax would be slashed by 13 percent in an attempt to ease the burden of soaring energy prices. 

The prime minister described the tax break as “generous” and “permanent”, adding that under the new scheme, eight in 10 Greeks would be paying even less. 

“The government is proceeding, today, with a new, generous permanent reduction of ENFIA by 13 percent. It therefore exceeds its commitment to a total relief of 30 percent of real estate taxation,” said Mitsotakis, adding that the decision was “fair to society and beneficial to the economy”

“This means that Greeks will now be required to pay, every year, 860,000,000 euros less than in 2018 and 350,000,000 less, in 2022 alone,” he said.

The PM also referred to previously announced support measures including electricity bill subsidies, a gradual reduction in taxes and levies to boost household incomes, and as of May 1, the implementation of a second increase in minimum wage announced earlier this week. In 2020, the finance ministry exempt the residents of 28 small and remote Greek islands from ENFIA tax payment.

Speaking to the press, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said the decision was part of the government’s pre-election commitment to reduce ENFIA for individual tax payers by more than 30 percent, to reduce taxes for the vast majority of citizens, to ensure social justice and cohesion are strengthened, and to allow flexibility through the introduction of more tax payment installments.

“More specifically, eight in 10 citizens, 80 percent of individuals who will pay real estate tax in 2022, ie about 5 million taxpayers will see, from this year and permanently, an even greater reduction of ENFIA; 14 percent will pay the same tax as last year; a small number of property owners, about 6 percent of the total, will see an increase,” he said.

The new plan also foresees the abolition of supplementary tax for both for individual owners and corporations.

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ΤΟΥΡΙΣΜΟΣ

Following Greece’s winter snowstorm named “Elpis” (Hope), which on Monday swept across a number of areas and brought cold weather, power outages, traffic chaos and a two-day shutdown, Greece’s government spokesman Yiannis Oikonomou on Wendesday informed how schools, shops and services will operate over the next two days in Attica and regions affected.

More specifically, Oikonomou announced:

Schools will remain closed on Thursday and Friday with classes taking place virtually.
Nurseries, kindergartens and day care centers will remain closed on Thursday and Friday.
– For businesses in the private sector, the government strongly recommends that employees work remotely where possible. Public sector employees will work remotely in services where possible and depending on the nature of their duties.
Courts will remain closed on Thursday and Friday.
Shops may operate from 10am to 6pm for the next two days.
Food delivery services and courier services are prohibited on Thursday.
Scheduled Covid vaccinations for children at the Prometheus vaccination center and at the Pentelis Children’s Hospital will not take place on Thursday. Vaccinations in other locations for children and adults will take place normally. For those who can not keep their scheduled appointment, an sms will be sent to reschedule.

Banks

The Hellenic Bank Association announced that branches in the affected areas of Attica, Viotia, Evia, Crete and South Aegean, will reopen to the public on Thursday. The association however recommended for citizens to limit their visits as much as possible citing that branches may temporarily have a limited number of employees or changes in opening hours due to the aftermath of the snowstorm. Citizens who plan to go to a bank are advised to call in advance.

Greek PM issues apology

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Photo source: @PrimeMinisterGR

Speaking during an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledged the inadequate response of the state to the snowstorm and apologized to those affected.

“We had an unprecedented snowfall, but I will not use that as an excuse. There were failures and inadequacies that need to be corrected,” he later wrote on Twitter.

Monday’s snowstorm paralyzed a number of areas and roads across Greece, including the privately-run Attiki Odos highway where some 1,800 vehicles and 3,500 people were trapped for hours.

The Greek PM promised that an investigation would take place with regard to the failure of the company managing the 70-kilometer highway and said that motorists who were trapped would receive compensation. It is noted that the company’s CEO, Vassilis Halkias, resigned on Tuesday.

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