Τhe president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) Giannis Retsos ,said yesterday that the first half of Greece’s tourism season has been just about lost due to the ongoing pandemic and that the course of the year will largely depend on a bounce as of July.
He was speaking at an event about the challenges and prospects of the Greek economy after the pandemic organized by the World Bank and the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), with the participation of the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Kostis Hatzidakis and Alpha Bank CEO Vassilios Psaltis, among others.
Retsos stressed that "the start of the season seems to have been delayed. We initially expected it to come in the second quarter, but now we are going for the third quarter, from July onwards. What we see today is that the recovery has not started yet, as it is directly related to the course of vaccinations in Greece and internationally, while the procedures delayed in these first four months of 2021.
Revenues this year are estimated to be in the range of 40-50 percent compared to 2019, between 7.5 to 9 billion euros. Today we are talking about 7.5 billion euros, but because developments depend entirely on the course of the pandemic, and we want to believe that at some point the situation will turn around, it is possible to achieve the highest range this year. The effort to recover the revenues of 2019, will start from 2022."
Asked by IOBE director, Professor Nikos Vettas, whether this year the impact of tourism multipliers will decrease and if tourist related spending will reach the broader economy as tourists will be locked in hotels, Retsos stressed that "yes, it is possible. This is true, but it will only be for this year. Everything we see this year will be a one off, it will not happen again."
End of the previous model
Retsos also made extensive reference to the fact that the pandemic brought the end to a previous tourism model, which paves the way for a holistic change of the model, in combination with the funds from the Recovery Fund.
"The pandemic is accelerating all these processes and pushing change faster. I believe that this situation is ideal to accelerate the projects planned for the next decade with the support of the Recovery Fund, so we will see a dramatic improvement in infrastructure in the coming years. Creating infrastructure in airports, ports, road networks, utility networks, etc. conditions are being created for us to accept tourists on better terms. Also, the improvement of the infrastructure will bring an extension of the tourist season. We will also see investments connecting tourism with other products with culture and the primary sector, as well as new enriched products, adapted to the conditions after the pandemic.”
At this point, Retsos stressed that "when you have a prosperous sector, a strong pillar that supports the economy, the goal cannot be to reduce it, to limit it, but at the same time to help other sectors to evolve. Even in connection with this pillar. The goal is to increase size of the pie, ie the GDP, so as a country we must see how we can help other sectors of the economy to recover dynamically, in relation to tourism. Tourism is not afraid, it has the multiplier with an expanded footprint and it can help with the development of other sectors. I think the next day will be good for tourism, where with similar policies it can help the development of the country through the transformation of the economy towards sustainable development and the multiple synergies with other sectors."