ATHENS – Hordes of tourists eager to travel as the COVID-19 pandemic lessens are pouring into Greece and spending big-time – health restrictions eased to lure them – but rising costs mean many Greeks can’t vacation in their own country and are even spending less at supermarkets.
That’s not all. With inflation at its highest since 1993 and worries there could even be another recession, the prices of everything from gasoline to energy and appliances has Greek households cutting back again like they did during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis where they limited spending.
A survey by the firm Pulse for the Athens Professional Chamber also showed growing pessimism among citizens and residents, as well as entrepreneurs, not only about their personal finances but the overall economy.
Some 57 percent said they’re worried most about the costs of electricity, fuel and heating – electricity bills have nearly doubled – and that 30 percent are anxious about being able to buy enough food.
There’s a 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on food that the New Democracy government said it can’t cut – after promising to review it – although the economy is set to grow this year and in 2023.
Only 25 percent said they will take a summer holiday, 36 percent will go for the same number of days as in 2021, and 29 percent will take fewer trips this year, and only 4 percent will take a longer holiday – because they didn’t have any in the two previous years.
It will be the third year in a row for many Greeks of not taking a real holiday during the summer after COVID hit in 2020 and essentially stopped travel and continued into 2021 as well.
With the demand for hotels and short-term rentals soaring as foreign visitors pour in, the prices have risen as well, leaving a lot of Greeks unable to afford the cost of accommodations or ferry boat tickets or gasoline or anything.
Many have opted, even earlier than usual, for their villages although the cost of getting there has risen dramatically with gasoline nearing $10 a gallon, twice that in the United States which has drawn anger from Americans there.