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Against Bashing Greece : The Greek Utopia

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On the contrary, whoever started back then, reorganising his business against the inevitably upcoming crisis, today is in a much better shape. By acting in such way my company, since 2008, remained profitable, even in 2012 – despite a severe decrease in our revenues during the last four years. We never had losses during the crisis, though. Now, getting back to your initial question, I think by definition a crisis cannot be perceived well by anybody. It is the actual meaning of the word. In Greece, in 2008 we were talking about 300 billion of GDP, and in 2012 we are talking about less than 200 billion GDP. In four years almost one third of your GDP evaporated. We currently have 1.5 million people unemployed (the highest unemployment rate in the E.U.), which is about, you can say, close to one third of your total active workforce.

So, you understand that the situation and the climate in society is really bad. If you live in Greece, and you stay with this perception, then you see everything in a negative way. But, I think, again by definition, crisis creates opportunities, and this is what you should look at and find ways to capitalise on that. Maybe the biggest advantage so far is this: we see less of the public sector and a more active private sector. Greece was actually depending on his public sector practically in everything: creating new jobs, increasing revenues. We used to borrow money cheap, especially after 2001, when we entered the Eurozone. Instead of investing this money in new projects or innovative ideas, this money went to consumption and basically to the public sector which kept growing enormously.

Now for the first time, as a result of the crisis, we see the private sector getting stronger. The way of doing business is changing. Our government so far, for many years now, was talking about reforms, and politicians were talking about implementing new policies. But they did not have a clear vision and they were acting without any strategy. Today the private sector has a vision; the vision for us in tourism is that in 2021, eight years from today, having Greece among the ten most important countries in the world tourist-wise, in terms of arrivals and in terms of revenues. That is our vision. We have a clear strategy of how to do that. And we are proceeding to the necessary reforms and the implementation of this strategy. That is why we are very confident that we are going to be successful.

So there really is a change.

Retsos: This is a good moment to create new kinds of products. This year we expect to have more than 17 million arrivals. This was a target set by the beginning of the year. Actually now I am pretty confident that we are going to exceed this target. I expect close to 17.5 million arrivals this year. We expect about 11 billion direct touristic revenues. If you multiply that by 2.5, which is about the effect to the rest of the economy, you are talking about 25 billion Euros of revenues related to tourism. This is a huge number.

It is one eighth of the whole economy.

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