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Editorial

Rising Costs, the Rise of the Dollar, and Tourism

A wise American politician used to say that “all politics is local.” For the citizen of a country, in other words, the big problems are those that concern him/her directly.

S/he is of course also interested in international issues – the wars, the disasters, the threats to democracy – but the most important matters for him/her are the local problems. Those that concern him/her directly. His/her pocket. And justifiably so.

And at this time the issue that burns him/her is the problem of how expensive life has become. For example, the price of gasoline and the cascading effects it has on the prices of products necessary for every household.

I am referring especially to Greece, where last month inflation reached 12%, and to the rising cost of living in America, which a few days ago hit a record 9.1% – the highest since 1981.
So it is somewhat difficult for the people of Greece – from where I have just returned – to focus their attention upon and properly assess the other major problems facing the country, such as Turkey’s crude threats.

What will be the political implications of inflation? That there will be political repercussions is certain. What is not certain is what and how serious they will be.

And in Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis will not hold early elections, apparently with the rationale that the country should not fall into anarchy – due to the irresponsibility of Tsipras, who changed the electoral system, taking away the bonus for the winning party that promotes stability – during a period of tough confrontation with Turkey.

As far as the United States is concerned, the voices of the Democrats asking Biden not to run again are getting louder and louder, as they are facing the possibility of losing control of Congress after elections in November.

The hopes for the Greek economy have been placed almost exclusively – I hear little about investments lately – in tourism, which has recovered strongly and noticeably after the years of the pandemic. But that sector continues to show its longstanding weaknesses, such as attracting mainly tourists who are not affluent and do not spend a lot. However, tourism this year from America to Europe is showing significant strength, including from America to Greece, despite the major problems at the airports – thanks to the historic parity between the dollar and the euro.

But again, it should be clear that for tourism to really benefit, Greece must be aggressive and proactive. To be imaginative. To urge. And it should not expect to be ‘supported’ by the Onassis Foundation, as it says in advertisements at airports.

Nor should its campaign remain in ‘planted’ publications and commentaries that convince few people, including those within Greece.

So let’s put the rhetoric aside and look at how we will take advantage of the comparative advantages we have and the heaven-sent opportunities presented to us.

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