Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, in an address to the Greek Tourism Federation, extolled the crucial role of Greek tourism throughout the eight year crisis in bolstering the economy, and at the same time predicted that 2018 will be the best year ever for Greek tourism.
Tourism was the only sector of the economy that managed to grow over the last years and bolstered employment by investing in the country’s prospects, the PM said.
“We promised a difficult but reconstructive course for the country and the economy, and three years later we see light at the end of the tunnel at long last,” Tsipras declared.
He noted that Greek tourism has broken past records in each of the last three years, and that it is expected to do so again this year.
“It is expected that again this year we will break the record of Greek tourism, with an estimated 32 million foreign visitors expected,” he said, adding that recent data show a 12.8 percent increase in arrivals during the first months of the year, as compared to the same period in 2017.
Tsipras said that the tourism sector was the only one that resisted the deep recession and managed to grow.
“Surely you were the best example of what we can achieve even in bad times. You supported employment when the unemployment rate had skyrocketed to 27 percent, and you continued investing in the positive perspective of the country, when other businessmen where swiftly abandoning ship, thinking only of their narrow interests,” the PM said.
Tsipras said that the government is hastening to complete all necessary reforms to complete the bailout programme by mid-June, and that debt relief measures will have been decided by the end of the month.
“We are awaiting a well-crafted [debt relief] agreement with an ambitious perspective and suitably adjusted to the long-term needs of the Greek economy, he said. “It must be able to convince the markets that Greece is returning dynamically and with claims to the international economic system”.