Despite the bureaucratic hurdles, the motorhome is fast becoming a popular option for holiday makers in Greece, offering security and comfort on the move.
As an alternative form of travel tourism, motorhomes have been gaining significant ground in Greece in recent years. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has given motorhomes an additional appeal, as travelling and staying in them restricts unnecessary human contact, offers freedom of movement and residence, without special restrictions.
This year the motorhome has “taken over” the market, with the demand for rentals having skyrocketed.
An organized camp spot at Armenistis beach on the Sithonia peninsula, Halkidiki.
In fact, the demand is so high that the supply of vehicles available for rent in the country currently cannot meet it, mainly because of the legislation governing purchase and ownership of motorhomes, entrepreneurs operating in the field explain.
In Greece there are about 1,500 motorhomes, 400 of which belong to members of the Hellenic Motorhome Club (ELAT). Every year a further 5,000 motorhomes arrive in the country from Europe – mainly during the summer season, but there’s some activity during the winter months as well.
The phones in the rental companies are ringing non-stop as the questions addressed by the interested parties concern mainly – in addition to the rental cost – procedure issues, such as what kind of driving license is required in order to drive a motorhome (a simple I.C. license suffices), how its electronic systems work, its supply, sewage, and so on.
“At the moment there is no motorhome available whatsoever” says Adam Asimakopoulos, owner of a motorhome rental company. The ongoing international health crisis has driven demand for motorhome holidays, according to the estimates of the rental companies. “Demand had been at its highest until a month ago. However, the new coronavirus mutations seem to have “frozen” interest again,” explains Konstantinos Kotalakidis, owner of a company that operates simultaneously in Greece and Germany.
Demand comes mainly from foreigners, around 80%, as the concept of motorhome tourism is more widespread, especially northern and central European countries. Most bookings have already been made since last February.
“In Greece, the high cost of owning a car has shaped a mindset that it is a luxury. In fact most invest in a cottage, while others choose to invest in a motorhome so that they can vacation in different places,” Anastasia Georgoulopoulou, general secretary of ELAT, explains. The motorhome can be parked just about anywhere but opening windows and awnings is only allowed in organized campsites.
“It needs a special area where in addition to parking it can also get access to various services (water, empty the sewage tanks, etc.). These international camper stops are usually a municipal space that offers everything a motorhome needs for a small fee,” explains Mrs Georgoulopoulou. The rest of Europe has around 20,000 such sites. “The international lists of camper stops for Greece state that there are no such official places,” she notes. There is, however, a growing interest in creating camper stops by municipalities and individuals, but there is no institutional framework providing for the conditions of their establishment and operation.
The high cost of import duties on these vehicles into Greece and the imposition of a luxury tax on their owners make their purchase unprofitable. Rental companies also face particular problems with the legislative framework, explaining that “no matter how much the demand for rent goes up, it is not in our interest to maintain a large number of motorhomes.”
“The motorhome is treated almost like a truck at tolls, so every crossing costs a lot of money,” explains Andreas Lakopoulos, also owner of a company.
Ormos Panagias, Sithonia, Halkidiki.
The rental area of motorhomes follows the corresponding tourist traffic and prices are adjusted according to the season. During high season (July – August) one can rent a motorhome with a capacity of 4 to 5 people at a cost ranging from 120 Euros to 230 Euros per day. Variations are related to the type of vehicle, its age and its capacity. The most classic type of motorhome can “accommodate” about 5 people and is 5.3 meters long.
During the low season (winter, except for the Easter period) prices range around 100 Euros, while one can also find a motorhome for 60 Euros per day. The average purchase price of a 4-year-old vehicle is around 65,000 Euros, but on an annual basis the owner is required to pay between 890 and 1,500 Euros in the form of luxury tax. “It is not in the interest of the car market because the institutional framework constantly creates obstacles for prospective owners, in terms of taxation, import duties, etc.,” explains Mr. Asimakopoulos.