German Paper Says Tourism Fueling Greek Recovery

(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, FILE)

Greece’s slow recovery from a more than 8 ½-year long economic crisis is being triggered by consecutive record tourism seasons and luring more real estate investors and property buyers, the German paper Handelsblatt said.

While Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who reneged on anti-austerity promises, is taking credit for what he said is a big rebound, the paper said that, “One success after another is being recorded in Greece’s tourism economy. The number of visitors since 2012 has nearly doubled. A new record for arrivals is expected in 2019. Tourism is developing into an even more powerful engine of the Greek economy…”

Tourism represents as much as 18 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of 175.11 billion euros ($200.3 billion) and in November Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said this year’s number of visitors is expected to surpass 33 million, a jump of some nine million in only four years with Greece benefiting from celebrities flocking to the country in the summer and big spenders dropping thousands of euros a night at nightclubs on the island of Mykonos and the island of Santorini so popular that cruise ship visits are being regulated.

Kountoura said that tourism revenues were expected to go up by 2 billion euros ($2.29 billion) to some 16.6 billion euros ($18.98 billion,) the biggest revenue driver in the annual Gross Domestic Product of 175.19 billion euros ($200.3 billion).

Athens also picking up numbers due to a new vibe as having hip neighborhoods for the young, and with more cruise ship arrivals.

RIDING THE WAVE

The figures are backed by the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), which affirmed that Greek tourism was riding on a wave of keen interest as demonstrated by the increase in the number of arrivals to the country, stronger revenue, and growing investor interest in the sector.

Handelsblatt also noted that business executives looking to scoop up properties depressed by the economic crisis and unrelenting austerity measures were pumping billions into new hotels and luxury units to lure bigger-spending tourists.

The German daily quoted a study by Algean Properties citing the highest weekly lease rates for luxury properties in Mykonos going for 11,500 euros ($13,154) and 8,000 euros ($9151) on Santorini.

“Whoever buys today in Greece benefits from the problems of the past. The eight-year recession left its marks on the Greek real estate sector. According to Bank of Greece calculations, over the 2009-2017 period, prices fell by 42 percent on average. In holiday areas the decrease was less, and averaged 38 percent,” the Handelsblatt article read.

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