Strong tourism performance helped Greece’s economy rebound in the third quarter (Q3) of the year despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with the gross domestic product (GDP) increasing by 2.7 percent over Q2 2021 and up by 13.4 percent over Q3 2020, according to provisional data released on Monday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
Greece’s performance is seen as being the best in the EU where the average rate is at 4 percent.
“The economy’s growth momentum picked up in the third quarter compared to the previous one with a boost from tourism, which performed better than expected,” National Bank Senior Economist Nikos Magginas told Reuters.
Magginas went on to say that “growth is bound to exceed 8.0 percent in the full year, even assuming a significant slowdown in the fourth quarter.”
Commenting on the news, Finance Minister Christos Staikouras confirmed that GDP growth for the nine months to September exceeded 9.3 percent, making this year’s target “absolutely feasible”.
“The strong recovery of the Greek economy is confirmed and the goal for 2021 becomes completely achievable since it is realistic, maybe even conservative. Among others, recovery is based on significant investments and net exports,” said Staikouras.
Development & Investments Minister Adonis Georgiadis also welcomed the news and said it “creates optimism and gives us reason to continue the work we are doing to restore the Greek economy in the storm of the pandemic”.
Greek authorities are expecting GDP to grow by 6.9 percent this year after a 9.0 percent contraction last year as a result of the health crisis. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said last week that he was forecasting the economy to grow by more than 7 percent in 2021 while the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is anticipating growth at a rate of 6.7 percent this year.
In the meantime, Staikouras also said Greece would not have to tap into EU Covid support for the time being.
“Based on current data, Greece does not need to resort to the ESM’s (European Stability Mechanism) credit lines since the government has made and continues to make prudent use of the country’s own resources,” he told a conference organized by the Economist.
Speaking to the Athens News Agency on the data, Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the year was not over yet and that tourism revenue was set to exceed 10 billion euros in 2021.
“That’s 5 billion euros more than our initial expectations,” he said, attributing the positive tourism performance to the “sense of security and trust Greece managed to instill in its visitors thanks to the implementation of stringent health protocols”.
Kikilias went on to add that the ministry was taking action and entering agreements that “make us optimistic about 2022” and which are aimed at creating more added value, additional revenues, new jobs and prosperity.