Provisional data compiled by the Finance Ministry show that tourism figures and retail sales improved last month compared to July, raising the government’s hopes that the recession will not reach into double digits for the whole of the year.
Ministry sources say that revenues from incoming tourism, which in July had come to just 20% of the figure recorded in July 2019, rose last month to 30-35% of the amount recorded in August 2019. Therefore, the total takings from foreign tourists had by end-August come to an estimated 3 billion euros: By end-June they reached €680 million, another €800 million flowed in in July and €1.5 billion was cashed in last month.
In 2019 Greece collected €18 billion euros from tourism; so far this year it has reached about 16% of last year’s takings – obviously a very low result despite the recovery recorded in August. True, more revenues are expected in September and the rest of the year, raising the rate somewhat, but the picture will not really change.
Domestic tourism showed a remarkable recovery in August, but ministry sources acknowledge that hardly any visitors came from certain markets this summer, such as the US, China and Russia.
The turnover of food service enterprises also posted a notable rebound last month, as online transaction figure reveal. While in June food service sales were down 40% on June 2019 and the drop came to 30% in July, August contained its annual decline to less than 10%, according to ministry sources.
Consequently, Kathimerini understands that the ministry is now anticipating that gross domestic product will only contract by 8-9% in the third quarter of the year on an annual basis, after the 15.2% contraction in April-June. For the fourth quarter, the latest estimates are now pointing to a 4-5% economic contraction.
Those projections mean that the target for a total drop of 8% throughout 2020 will be comfortably attained. Even a rate of 9-9.5% would not really be a problem for the government, which would be more concerned if the contraction came to 10% or more.