ATHENS – A push by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to lure foreign investors and accelerate a recovery during the waning COVID-19 pandemic is paying big dividends as the economy is on a path to grow 6 percent in 2022.
That assessment came from the respected Greek think tank IOBE although a previous near-decade long austerity and economic crisis still sees the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 25 percent below its peak.
But despite soaring inflation and many households struggling to buy foodstuffs and basic goods – and relying on state subsidies to pay up to 90 percent of doubled electricity bills – the economy is surging back.
In a feature, Investment Monitor noted the remarkable turnaround from the severity of pandemic lockdowns and slowdowns that shuttered businesses for months and kept people out of work, also relying on state aid.
The site said that now, 12 years after what turned into 326 billion euros ($325.62 billion) in three international bailouts to prop up an economy battered by wild overspending and runaway patronage, a New Greece is emerging.
The reason? “An injection of tourism following the Covid-19 pandemic, a residence-by-investment Golden Visa program, and a drive to increase foreign direct investment (FDI),” the report said.
Ioannis Smyrlis, Secretary-General for International Economic Relations and Openness and President of Enterprise Greece said that FDI inflows to Greece reached $5 billion in 2021, the largest sum since 2002.
Marinos Giannopoulos, CEO of Enterprise Greece, said, “the prosperity of Greece has been tied to the development of tourism, which has been one mainstay of economic growth and employment. 2022 is expected to be a record year for the Greek tourism industry as we expect to top the record 33.1 million visitor arrivals number, which was set in 2019.”
“Tourism has made a dynamic recovery this year with inbound traveler numbers up 121.8 percent between January and August, generating 12.71 billion euros ($12.7 billion),” he said.
IOBC cautioned, however, that the recovery won’t be able to sustain such high growth and that it would be only 1.6 percent in 2023 but Giannopoulos said there are promising sectors for investors, including energy, Information and Communications Technology, and life sciences and pharmaceuticals.
Giannopoulos explains that the Greek government is trying to cultivate the sector by supporting ICT initiatives through establishing incubators, research and development (R&D) centres, and co-working spaces.
“In the past few years, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have all invested heavily in Greece, showing a vote of confidence in the country’s solid ICT infrastructure,” he also noted of the opportunities seen coming.