According to a new report from The Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE), it will be possible for tourism to elevate Greece’s short-term economic situation. However, the analysts say tourism cannot be the pillar of long-term economic growth. Unfortunately, Greece’s leadership seems reticent to focus on anything but the acute financial crisis.
The report, the 2nd Analysis Current affairs KEPE for 2021, is titled “Can tourism save development for 2021.” Still, due to the sector’s notable limitations, the industry cannot keep pace as it did from 2008-2019. Travel receipts during this period were elevated by more than 56%. This growth rate is not sustainable.
The analysts say the positive effects of the National Plan for Recovery and Resilience in GDP will begin to be seen from 2022 onwards, but GDP will only rise about 2% for 2021. Experts say growth from tourism is a one-way street, a short-term remedy for the Greek recovery. And with overtourism a significant concern, business as usual is the current strategy promises no mid or long-term hope.
To make matters more confusing, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) news released last week estimating that the Greek economy will rebound after the pandemic to grow by 3.3% this year and by 5.4% in 2022. No wonder there is so much uncertainty. Meanwhile, Klaus Regling, head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), told reporters recently that elevating Greece’s long-term growth economic potential is key to maintaining debt sustainability.
Greece will get a recovery package of about 18.2 billion euros ($21.96 billion) in grants and 13 billion euros in cheap loans over the coming years. The key for real sustainability in the long term is going to be developing outside tourism. Unfortunately, there seems to be minimal emphasis other than lip service being paid to overall sustainable practices. For months now, we’ve read or heard about the “lessons” COVID-19 has taught leadership. And just a couple of weeks ago, the new head of the United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili had this to say in an interview with Kathimerini:
“Now, more than ever, sustainability, responsibility, and innovation must be our driving forces for a responsible recovery of the tourism sector from the Covid-19 crisis.”
Finally, there is no indication at all that Greece officials are even considering a new tourism course. A recent announcement about Greece intending to become the Mediterranean’s homeport deflates politicians’ suggestions there’s any real long-term plan. This AP story about MSC Orchestra and the battle by environmentalists to save Venice from overtourism should be a cautionary tale for anyone interested in Greece’s future. Activists cannot even get leadership to stop one cruise ship, let alone a fleet headed to the endangered port city this summer.
Photo credit: The windmills in Mykonos, Greece – Courtesy dronepicr