ATHENS – Desperate for cash, Greece’s new coalition government plans to whack tourists to islands with a big luxury tax jump and force them to use credit or debit cards for transactions of 70 euros or more.
Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras had vowed to cut taxes but his coalition has proposed to international lenders that it wants to increase the luxury tax 30 percent for hotels with three or more stars and the mandatory card use on islands with more than 3,000 inhabitants.
That applies to some of the country’s most popular and well-visited islands and includes Rhodes, Lesvos, Chios, Kos, Samos, Syros, Naxos, Santorini, Limnos, Kalymnos, Thasos, Myconos, Paros, Andros, Tinos, Icaria, Leros, Karpathos, Skiathos, Skopelos, Milos, Patmos and Symi.
Greece is expecting a third straight record tourist season and the government plan would hit tourists who can afford better accommodations to make them pay. The country’s hoteliers didn’t immediately respond as to whether they feared that would push visitors to other countries with cheaper levies.
The use of credit or debit cards would also make it easier to track facilities that are tax cheats, a common occurrence on islands where tourists are told to pay taxes which are then kept instead of being given to the state.