It has been just two months since I wrote the last editorial, but it feels much longer. Events are moving at an incredible speed, making it almost impossible to reliably predict what the near future will bring. War is still raging in Ukraine and the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people against the Russian invasion continues unabated. An unbearable humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding, with thousands of civilians dead, critical infrastructure destroyed and more than 4.5 million Ukrainian refugees seeking safety abroad. The war has raised real concerns about Europe’s energy supply, causing already soaring gas and oil prices to skyrocket and putting an unprecedented burden on businesses and households, with the situation exacerbated by the EU’s cumbersome decisionmaking process. Raw materials and commodities prices have also surged, triggering inflation rates at levels unprecedented in the last 30 years and putting considerable pressure on fiscal policy and family budgets. To a large extent, these price hikes are driven by speculation, which, if left unchecked, threatens to undermine social cohesion. As the specter of recession hovers over us once again, we must look to history, use the painful, valuable lessons we have learned, and act resolutely and without delay.
Despite these significant global challenges and uncertainty, Greece has had positive news in the form of forecasts for a bumper tourism year ahead—an important development in a country for which tourism represents approximately 20% share of GDP. Bookings are approaching 2019 levels, which marked a record high for tourist arrivals to the country. At the same time, the introduction of several new direct flight routes between Greece and the US creates the conditions for Greece to become a passenger transit hub. The news from the Covid-19 front is also good, as we seem to be entering a new phase, and while we are still far from where we were before the outbreak of the pandemic, preventive measures are being lifted and the hospitality sector is on the path to recovery, albeit at a slower pace, given the exorbitant cost of living.
At the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce, we continuously monitor the developments across all sectors of the economy, and we work—through various activities, events and initiatives—to further enhance our advocacy and strengthen our business networking in Greece and internationally. Over the past weeks, we have held closed meetings with Greek and US government officials, prepared our Committees’ annual set of recommendations for publication, organized a successful business mission to Northern Macedonia, welcomed the latest annual Transatlantic Economy report, and more. We are planning a range of special new initiatives in 2022, which will take place alongside our mainstay events, focusing on important and timely issues facing the business community and entrepreneurship in Greece today and honoring our Chamber’s 90th anniversary. Stay tuned.