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Greece woos tourists with longer shopping hours

Wednesday - 7/24/2013, 11:38am  ET

Protesters holding a cross are silhouetted in front of the Parliament during a protest rally against plans by the government to extended Sunday opening hours, in Athens on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. Parliament was expected later Tuesday to pass the measures allowing department stores to open on seven Sundays during the year and smaller, independent shops the rights to open every Sunday. Opponents of the bill argue that the measures will put additional pressure on small businesses which have already been hammered by Greece's financial crisis. The conservative-led government says the measures will boost businesses and jobs. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's parliament has approved legislation to extend Sunday opening hours for stores, in an effort to boost spending by tourists and stimulate the crisis-hit economy.

Lawmakers voted Wednesday in favor of legislation allowing department stores to open on seven Sundays during the year and smaller, independent shops the right to open every Sunday. Earlier rules kept most stores closed.

Small business associations, left-wing opposition parties, and senior members of the Greek Orthodox Church strongly oppose the new measures. Store owners and the Greek Communist party staged demonstrations in central Athens late Tuesday.

Greece is expecting a boost to its key tourism industry this year. More than a million visitors arrived in the January-March period, a 4.6 percent increase from 2012, according to the Bank of Greece.


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