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Travelling to Greece? Prepare to pay a new tax | Travel

In 2023, the Greek island of Rhodes, known for sparkling beaches and ancient sites, nursed wounds of devastating wildfires in July where thousands of people were evacuated during the height of travel season, leaving Rhodes to weigh how the crisis will affect its vital tourism sector, which fuels most of its economy and some 20% of Greece’s. The tourism sector was hit by heat waves and wildfires in other Mediterranean destinations too and Greece, Italy, Algeria and Tunisia combined lost more than 1,350 square kilometers (520 square miles) to blazes that affected 120,000 people in late July, according to European Union estimates while Greece expected even more extreme heat in the later days.

Travelling to Greece? Prepare to pay a new tax (Photo by REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis )

While travel to Greece overall was not hit too hard, fires chased away tourists in hard-hit parts of Greece and Rhodes saw mass cancellations of flights but even without the flames, summer heat intensified by climate change was a turnoff for travellers. Wildfires in the Mediterranean are not unusual but climate change has increased their intensity.

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A massive flooding in central Greece, that spawned from Storm Daniel in early September 2023, followed a summer of record heatwaves and wildfires with a “very clear climate change fingerprint, quantifying the contribution of global warming to these floods proved more challenging,” according to Scientist Friederike Otto, a Climatologist at Imperial College London and Co-Founder of World Weather Attribution (WWA). Fierce rainstorms battered Greece, triggering flooding and leading the police to ban traffic in the central town of Volos, the nearby mountain region of Pilion and the resort island of Skiathos as record rainfall caused death, channelled thigh-high torrents through streets and swept cars away.

Considering that if heatwaves or floods were to be repeated every summer, the impact on the economy would be significant since tourism activity is centered on the three summer months, Greece has now introduced a new tax for tourists called a “climate crisis resilience fee,” that leans on tourism boom to financially support future disaster relief efforts and replaces the previous hotel tax where the tax amount varies by hotel category and time of the year.

According to the Greek government, tourists will pay the following amount per room and night:

Category – March to October/November to February

5-star €10 ($10.93) / €4 ($4.37)

4-star €7 ($7.65) / €3 ($3.28)

3-star €3 ($3.28) / €1.50 ($1.64)

1-2 star, Short-term rentals €1.50 ($1.64) / €0.50 ($0.55)

Source: Gazette of the Government of the Greek Republic

After emerging from a debt crisis in 2018, tourism has been the main driver of Greece’s economy and generates around a quarter of Greece’s GDP even as some critics warn of the impact of “overtourism” on some Greek islands and exorbitant prices on others. Renowned for its Aegean islands and ancient sites such as the Acropolis in the capital Athens, Greece hit a record high in 2023, despite a heatwave and fierce wildfires over the summer where according to official statistics, 22.65 million people visited the Mediterranean country from January 2023 to the end of August 2023.

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