Tourism remains Greece’s biggest hope for a swift rebound after six years of recession, given that its expected growth to a record of 17 million arrivals from abroad this year is creating new jobs and generating investment in various domains. A rise in car sales last month has been linked to an expected bumper tourist season, while the government announcent on Thursday five-month paid training schemes for 10,000 people.
Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, his tourism counterpart Olga Kefaloyianni and the head of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis, announced a special subsidized program to provide training and work experience in the tourism industry for 10,000 jobless people aged 18 to 29 years.
Applications can be submitted until May 27 and will benefit 2,000 university graduates and 8,000 high school or technical college graduates. The program, expected to be up and running by July 1, involves 80 hours of theory and 500 hours of practice. Payment for participants will amount to a maximum of 2,400-2,700 euros in total, depending on their educational background.
Once the five-month program is over, tourism enterprises will be provided with incentives to hire participants, as the Employment Ministry will cover their social security contributions for a period of time.
Expectations of an increase in tourism this year as well as changes in the regulations for tourism transport have led to an increase in car sales in April after a long period of decline.
Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data showed on Thursday that the number of new cars on Greece’s roads posted an increase of 21.8 percent last month from April 2012, totaling 7,248 new vehicles. April last year had seen a massive 52.7 percent decline on an annual basis. There was also a 1.2 percent annual increase in motorcycles sold last month.
Market professionals attribute this increase to the high number of new vehicles acquired by car rental companies in anticipation of the arrival of more tourists this year, and to the liberalization of tourism transport; this means that as of this year, hotels and other tourism enterprises can operate their own vehicles in order to facilitate the transportation of tourists. More than 50 percent of the cars sold in April were corporate vehicles.
After a long time, Toyota bounced back to the top spot in car sales in April, securing a 13.1 percent share of the market, ahead of Volkswagen with 12.4 percent and Hyundai with 9.6 percent. Opel dropped to fourth on 7.9 percent with Fiat fifth, securing a 5.8 percent market share.