ATHENS — "The first victim of the coronavirus in the world is tourism and we must in no way underestimate the magnitude of the economic crisis we are experiencing. It is the biggest financial crisis in 70 years. An unprecedented experience for all, a symmetrical crisis, which affects all countries and all sectors, except some are affected more deeply. And unfortunately, the tourism sector is at the forefront," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday speaking at the 28th Ordinary General Assembly of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE).
This powerful tourism engine for Greece is being carefully restarted, the prime minister said, adding that "we will reopen the tourism market."
"Above all with rules of safety for employees and visitors and with a desire that this summer should become an epilogue to the problems but also a prelude to new successes next season. The experience, the plan and the capabilities exist: Let's turn this crisis into an opportunity," he underlined.
"Let's use the time we have so that the plan for the next decade in tourism, in 2021-2030, corrects many of the chronic problems that all of us have at times carefully swept under the rug, relying instead on some very encouraging short-term figures," Mitsotakis said.
He noted that the government's choice in mid-March to completely suspend the operation of entire sectors of economic and social life was a fully informed choice. "We knew that certain areas, such as tourism, would pay a very high cost. But in those hours there was just one priority, to protect public health and the life of Greek citizens and to shield the national health system in order to organise its defense against the virus," he said.
The prime minister pointed out that the state should and did support the people of the market and labour in general, and he referred to the package of measures taken by the government to support businesses that were forced to suspend their operation, as well as to help companies and individual meet their tax obligations. " I think that in this way, we managed to avoid the worst," he said.
"If we had not taken all these measures, which amount to 24 billion euros, the situation in the real economy, in business, in the labour market would be much, much worse," he noted, adding that "this process is dynamic, we still have reserves to use in the battle if necessary. We are doing it gradually because we must at all times evaluate the reaction of the market to the reality as this unfolds and the measures taken."
"We are here to see if additional support is needed for production forces and, if it is necessary, I believe that by the end of July, we will not hesitate to give it," he said, stressing that the government has proven that it is listening to market forces, talking to the labour market and intervening with measures whenever this is needed, in order to mitigate the effects of the unprecedented crisis.