Wednesday, October 2 was not an ordinary day in Athens by the standards of urban dwellers in the developed world. There was a transit strike that shut down the metro and the tram, and there was extremely limited bus service. It certainly was not welcome to the many tourists who heeded the gracious invitation of Greek tourist officials to come and enjoy more than just sun and sea in Greece – the Acropolis museum and many interesting archaeological sites – the Acropolis is the crown but not the only jewel of the City. Even those who thought they were secure in their fancy tour busses saw the disruption of their carefully planned itineraries by horrific traffic. But the tourists surely took it in stride on a gorgeous day for walking to the sites and restaurants in Athens Centre.
There was another group of visitors, however, both known and unknown, who were not amused. These are the potential investors who were scared away by the high taxes and snail’s pace of action under the previous SYRIZA government but who have noted the impressive start made by the new government under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The Greek and international news media have been spellbound this week by the competition between Hard Rock International and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment for the Integrated Resort and Casino concession at the long-delayed-but-finally-on-its-way development at Hellenikon. No worries for those two companies – they are all in, believing in Greece’s long term tourism value and in the future of the so-called Athenian Riviera. But what of the other potential investors – many global corporations could be thinking about how great it would be to set up shop and give opportunities to the very talented Greek youth they have been seeing outside Greece. They must be wondering what it means for setting up effective operations if Greece lurches backwards to the inflexible labor practices that kept them away in the past. It appears that the labor unions did not get Mitsotakis’ memo about building a new Greece with jobs to attract the youth who left during the crisis and they remain clueless about the compromise and common sense its construction requires.