The Conservative Party will withdraw Maria Grapini from the position of SMEs and Tourism Minister in order for her to run in the EP elections in May. Grapini will leave the government in March at the latest, party sources have stated. The decision will be announced today during the Conservative Party’s Permanent Bureau meeting, the sources added. The Conservative Party will propose another person for the position of SMEs, Business Sector and Tourism Minister. Maria Grapini took over this position in December 2012. Grapini stated in December, at a review of 11 months in office, that this year she wants to hike the number of foreign tourists by 50 per cent, but did not state that in the first ten months of 2013 the number of foreign tourist grew by only 3 per cent year-on-year. Back then she announced that she plans to hike the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP from 1.5 to 5 per cent, if she remains in office for a full term. The SMEs and Tourism Minister also was at the origin of the proposal for a flat tax payable by tourism companies, a project that is yet to come into force. The idea has divided the hotel market, some agreeing with the project and others contesting it, especially the big hotel operators that are registering losses and are not paying profit tax. The tourism law, whose draft was launched in 2007 and been debated ever since, has not been adopted during Maria Grapini’s term either.