Tourists help ease Greek recession
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
A tourist overhanging the ancient Acropolis in Athens watches with binoculars on August 11, 2013. AFP PhotoTourists visiting Greece for their summer holidays have given a big unexpected boost to the recession-hit Greek economy, official data showed on Friday.
The latest figures are in line with signs that the extremely deep recession in Greece is easing.
Revised data for gross domestic product in the second quarter of the year showed that the economy shrank by 3.8 percent on a 12-month comparison.
This was far better than the initial estimate which showed the economy shrinking by 4.6 percent.
The growth data confirms tourism industry figures that in July showed a 10-percent rise in foreign arrivals at airports in the first half of 2013.
And the Bank of Greece in turn announced that in the year running up to May 2013, tourism revenue had soared 38.5 percent and foreign arrivals overall 24 percent.
Tourism, which makes up about 17 percent of Greece's economy, had slumped in recent years with foreign vacationers turned off by images of striking Greeks and economic meltdown brought on by the debt crisis that began in 2009.
The return of foreign tourists is also being helped by continuing turmoil in Egypt, another popular destination spot caught in deep political crisis.
Greece has received massive rescue funding, tied to tough conditions, from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, to help it overcome a debt crisis which threatened the eurozone, and banks have abandoned some debt owed by the country. The national statistics office Elstat which published the latest data said that the revision and improvement in the second quarter reflected mainly a strong performance by the tourism industry.
In the first quarter, the economy showed contraction of 5.6 percent.
Leading figures in the eurozone and analysts say that Greece may need a further rescue package, but that it may also be past the worst of its long and deep recession and on the path to growth.
In this context, the country is working hard to correct its public deficit, to raise efficiency internally and to boost exports so as to generate growth.