Athens predicts at least 3.6% growth in Greece in 2021, despite fire and pandemic

Athens predicts at least 3.6% growth in Greece in 2021, despite fire and pandemic

The finance minister said on Friday that the Greek economy will experience growth of at least 3.6% this year, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and violent fires that dealt a severe blow to activity.

“Our estimate of 3.6% growth this year is completely achievable, and may even be too cautious,” Christos Stykouras assured Mega TV. In 2020, Greece’s gross domestic product (GDP) declined by 8.2%.

This optimism is especially justified by the better-than-expected recovery of tourism, a key sector of the Greek economy badly hit last year by health restrictions linked to COVID-19.

“It is a good year compared to last year. Compared to our estimates (…) it is much better,” he said of the tourist arrivals.

He said Athens had expected to recover 45% of 2019 tourist attendance so far this year, but that passenger arrivals currently account for 70%.

Greece reopened to tourists in May after an intense campaign to vaccinate residents of several popular tourist islands, as well as other resort destinations.

With over 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), tourism is an important sector for the Greek economy.

With parts of the country facing a resurgence of the coronavirus, Greek authorities have announced local curfews, particularly on the “party” island, Mykonos. Similar restrictions have been imposed in the tourist island of Zakynthos as well as the two main cities of Crete, Chania and Heraklion, where curfews have been extended for a few days.

Greece has also just suffered violent fires that destroyed hundreds of small businesses and caused significant environmental damage.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the release of 500 million euros in aid for victims of fire and reconstruction in disaster areas.

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