ECONOMY

Tourism boosts bank accounts

The 1-billion-euro rise in bank deposits in August constitutes a clear indication of the improvement in the economy bolstered by the growth of tourism, according to figures issued by the Bank of Greece on Thursday.

What is more encouraging is that this is not a coincidental increase as August was the sixth consecutive monthly rise in the deposits balance, in tandem with the stabilization of the gross domestic product in the second quarter of the year and an estimate for growth in the third.

BoG data point to a total rise in deposits of 3.7 billion euros from February, when bank accounts hit their lowest point of the year so far. At the end of August deposits by households and enterprises amounted to 164.2 billion euros, against 163.2 billion at end-July. That is the highest level seen since 2012, the year of the twin general elections when a wave of bank withdrawals was recorded.

The increase in deposits last month is attributed to tourism revenues, as the rise came mostly from bank accounts on the country’s islands, which hosted millions of tourists this summer.

Bank sources said that New Democracy deputy Adonis Georgiadis’s statement regarding the possibility of a bank run if SYRIZA wins the next election has not affected depositors’ psychology now that the threat of a eurozone exit has diminished and the European Central Bank is closely monitoring the local banking system.

In fact the latest picture from banks points to a further increase in deposits in September, although the payment of income tax and new single property tax (ENFIA) installments will likely change that by the end of the month.