Greek tavernas under threat
Karen Mills: September 2011
Greek holiday tavernas under threat.
An evening meal beneath the stars while sitting in a Greek island taverna is many people's idea of what a Greek island holiday is all about. But the future of Greek tavernas looks under threat as economic hardships bites and Greeks can no longer afford the rising price of menu favourites.
The Greek taverna has been part and parcel of the Greek way of life. Whole families would often decamp to their favourite eating place for a meal and drinks.
With Greece now in its fourth year of recession, and wages down nearly 25% in real terms, Greeks are turning away from taverna life and staying at home.
To add to the misery, another hike in VAT on food and drink to 23% looks likely to force Greek taverna owners to put up prices yet again.
Angry Greek cafe and restaurant owners are now threatening to withhold the tax in protest. Many economic experts predict that the tax hike will no nothing to raise revenue.
Similar moves implemented for petrol and mobile phones simply led to a sharp drop in consumption, business closures and less money for the government.
Fearful of the effects on tourism, hotels offering all inclusive holidays are exempt from the tax rise. Independent taverna owners are outraged at the preferential treatment for large hotel chains. The food and drink tax in Greece is now four times that of France, which also enjoys a street cafe lifestyle.
Despite the widespread unpopularity of the new measures, the government claims its hand are tied, with the country's creditors demanding that Greece cut its huge deficit or quit the eurozone.
Complaints of Greek consumers and taverna owners are likely to continue to fall upon deaf ears. For tourists it will mean many tavernas will be forced to close their doors and that Greek holiday may not seem so attractive after all.