By: Erica King
Every country has its downfalls. Some are worse than others, but each country goes through it. This time it was Greece who has recently suffered from an economic crisis. According to a New York Times article titled, “Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained,” Greece became the epicenter of Europe’s debt crisis after Wall Street imploded in 2008. The country announced in October 2009 that it had been understating its deficit figures for years. By spring 2010, Greece had been shut down from borrowing money from financial markets. Greece has since received bailout money from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission, but Greece’s economic problems has not faded away. What does this mean for businesses in Greece?
Tourism still prevalent
A man only identified as Erisadesu, works in a bakery in Greece. He has been working there for five years now as a second job to keep a steady income for his family. Erisadesu claims the bakery made be busy some days, but looks can be deceiving. “Our sales dropped really fast and now that are prices are even more expensive we still manage to work. Outside you can see that the place is always busy but the internal problems are far greater,” he said. Erisadesu sees less faces from natives of his city, but more unfamiliar faces. Although Greece has suffered from economic declines, it still remains to be a popular tourists spot. According to the USA Today article, “Greece tourism unaffected by financial crisis,” it stated that tourism brought in around $32.7 billion in 2014, which made up more than 17% of the country's GDP.
“This time last year we weren't busy at all and we were sure that our shop will be closed after Christmas, but the last few years our city has become more popular and more tourists arrive every weekend,” Erisadesu said. “So although we are still working really good, it is not as good as it has to be for the company to survive, and our clients are mostly tourists and rich people,” he added.
Tourism remains a large component of Greece's
economy. | Photo courtesy of Daily Mail
Greece has always been known for its beautiful land sites, but that’s not all. The country has also been known for its delicious food. The restaurant business brings in major revenue for the country, but how has the restaurant business succeeded or failed since the crisis?
“The ones that got customers from surrounding hotels are doing well in mainstream destinations. However "all inclusive" tourism is on the rise, many tourists choose to receive meals inside their hotel for free instead of going out etc. So even though we still get a lot of tourism restaurants are affected,” said Chrisos, who does not wish to have his last name identified.
Chrisos, who used to work in the restaurant business, says he sees businesses changing in his town. “Cafeterias, bars, pubs etc. that had business before are still doing well. The ones that are preferred by locals tend to get customers all year long. In my town I see more opening too, which is kind of ironic if you ask me because small businesses close down and we're seeing them get replaced by service based businesses such as cafeterias, beer pubs and bars,” he said.
Wages for restaurants have decreased
The wages for people in the restaurant business has also decreased. “In regards to wages, I heard the general rate is 2€ an hour (paid in cash) for waiters and waitresses,” Greek native, Koulie said.
Although businesses may be closing down, Greece native Miji believes only the businesses who are not competitive are not thriving. Providing better services, lower prices, and studying the market are a few ways Greek businesses can stay successful according to Miji. “Building a social media profile has also been something that more and more businesses in Greece begun to do around the time the crisis started,” Miji said. “So, in 2015? It's just worse than 2014, really, the streets are emptier most of the time, and most of the places are less populated than what they used to be. The latest hits from the EU, and the increasing costs of life and the lowering wages it gives less an incentive for people to eat out,” she added.
According to the “Greece’s Debt Crisis Explained,” the economy has shrunken by a quarter in five years, and unemployment is above 25%. Emily Galanos, who used to work in the restaurant business, claims she remembers the good days before unemployment was rarely even thought about. “During the good days before 2010 as a waiter your salary was 40 euros for an average night and even more on Friday/Saturday night. Of course it was "black" money, no insurance and there were zero control from officials like IKA. Things have changed a lot. At the said. The IKA is the largest social security organization in Greece that patrols workers and employers.
The Greek parliament increased taxes on items
like wine in order to help boost the economy. |
Photo courtesy of Greek Boston.
Although some businesses have been suffering since the Greece economic decline, and unemployment rates have increased, it seems the tourists have continued to bring in revenue to the beautiful country. “We will not allow our country to die out. We are slowly working up to where we used to be,” Erisadesu said. According to an article written on The Guardian titled “Greece cleared by Eurozone fund for 2bn bailout loan,” Greece has been recently cleared to receive funding from the Eurozone bailout fund, European Stability Mechanism. Greece’s parliament first had to agree to implement new austerity measures, which includes higher taxes on wine and road use as well as increased limits on protections for distressed mortgage holders. The article states Greece is expected to enter into a recession next year.