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Tsipras: Ensuring Public Safety and Viability of Tourism Sector Vital Ahead of Reopening

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Μain opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiorgos Kontarinis)

ATHENS -- The state should support the tourism industry to help achieve the best possible result during this coming season, said SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Alexis Tsipras during an e-meeting he held with the industry's representatives on Wednesday.

As Greece is approaching the reopening of tourism on May 15, noted Tsipras, "it is finding itself having broken all negative records in the coronavirus pandemic, in terms of new infections, intubated patients and also in deaths."

This negative reality cannot be overturned from one day to the next, he added, but while all hope for "a gradual de-escalation" of the pandemic, "this remains a negative factor facing us during the reopening of the country’s tourism."

It is, therefore, key to "create a positive framework of security and trust for the people that will choose Greece as a tourist destination this summer," he underlined, and to also make the best possible use of vaccination certificates.

The most important concerns for a safe reboot of tourism are ensuring public health safety and the economic viability of tourism businesses and its employees, he underlined, citing data from the Bank of Greece that showed Greek tourism businesses in 2020 were hit with a 76 pct drop in turnover and a 78 pct reduction in tourist arrivals.

Having been crippled by the pandemic's impact, these businesses will need solid help to simply reopen, let alone break even after the losses incurred, he said, and ensure jobs are preserved.

One way to help the sector reopen in a viable way, besides boosting liquidity, would be a partial write-off of debts amassed during the pandemic, Tsipras stressed, along the lines of SYRIZA's 2018 legislation concerning the settling of debts towards social insurance funds. In numbers, he reiterated the party's proposal of a 40-60 pct write-off of debts incurred during the pandemic and the remaining amounts spread across 120 monthly instalments.

The e-meeting was attended by the President of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) Yiannis Retsos, and the President of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation (HHF) Grigoris Tasios, among several others.