Me in Serbia and crisis in Greece
During my visit to Serbia, two things surprised me. First of all - weather. The summeron Thassos started even before I left the island. And not only in terms of high summer temperatures, but also everything else related to the tourist season started. People who live in Thessaloniki and other continental parts of Greece, who come to Thassos during the summer to do their job in tourism, arrived in the second half of April. They “take off the padlocks” in cafes that are closed during the winter, they are buying a new garden furniture, setting up umbrellas, sunbeds are set out, at the beaches are already the first bathers. Among them there are locals, but there are also many foreign tourists who took advantage of cheap pre-season arrangements.
On the other hand, you can see it for yourself that the summer, when you are from Serbia, looks quite distant. You will get the picture how surprised I was if I tell you that I went from the island in slippers. Upon arrival in Serbia and after greetings with the family, one of the first things I did was a search in garage for a usable pair of boots. My enthusiasm when I found such a boots the neighbors who peeked “over the tar” could interpret as an obvious sign of the crisis in Greece :-) Ah, the crisis. We came to another thing that surprised me when I arrived in Serbia. Perhaps it’s because I live on an island that is miles away from the great centers where various political and social turbulence are taking place, but on Thassos, not only now, but even the past seasons when everyone was talking about chaos and madness, I did not feel any effects of the crisis. On the other hand, in Serbia, where memories of empty raffs, war, hyper inflation, sirens, hiding in basements and other misery are still fresh, people seem to be more inclined to cataclysmic predictions. As soon as the crisis is mentioned, we immediately get drunk and think that this is “the” crisis. This Serbian apocalyptic view of the Greek crisis (and everything else :-)) has slowly slackened my island indifference, so I decided to dig a little more in details. After the correspondence with some Greeks which opinion I respect addressed to the political situation, and after reading the economic analyzes of various Greek, Serbian and Western experts and exploring forums of “amateur experts”, I came to the conclusion that in Greece, on the macro-economic plan (I apologize for the terminology, I’m under the influence of everything I read :)) there will be very radical changes, although they will not have such a dramatic impact on the everyday life of the Greeks, as this is meant by us.
In everyday life, the negative effects will most be felt (and are already felt) by employees in state and public services. Places like Thassos and all smaller towns on the Aegean coast of Greece will be significantly less affected by the crisis, because tourism is the main activity of the population of these regions. Greek hoteliers and restaurant owners will experience the crisis indirectly, since the most important customers and Greece’s most numerous guests were traditionally the Greeks themselves, from urban areas and continental parts of Greece. The number of Greeks who go on vacation will decrease and, more importantly, those who do go on vacation will spend much less than before. This means that there will be more free places in hotels and apartments, so the owners of the accommodation will be forced to give more favorable prices so that tourists can profit from that story. Significant cheaper accommodation and food prices in Greece are expected till summer of 2013. This year, the accommodation will probably be a little cheaper, but this will not be so significant because Greek hotel operators have mostly managed to contract with major tour operators from Western countries, especially from England, from which most foreign tourists come to Greece (1.9 billions). We Serbs are only in the fourth place with half a million tourists, although we run convincingly in some “constituencies” like Paralia :) There were little less German tourists last year, and this year will be even lesser because of political misunderstandings and statements by some German politicians regarding Greek “saving habits” and “discipline”. As for all other foreign tourists, a somewhat weaker interest in Greece is expected, mainly for psychological reasons. Anxiety, however, disappears as soon as the tourist season starts and everyone sees that everything is normal. Then (even if it was last year) already in early June, there was a thunder of accommodation reservations by all those who were waiting to see “what will happen”.
I’ll stop bothering you with my economic analyzes with a quote of one of my friends who wrote me today a mail: “Ana, I do not think there’s any reason to worry. People are not worried here… They’re all games that politicians play with you… In short, Greece is exactly the way you left it. Boats sail, pump fuel gasoline, people eat in restaurants, eaten in shops, shop in markets, rooms are renting… the sun shines and the sea is wavy, tourists enjoy… as always…” Therefore, the islanders do not care too much. Representatives of the local authorities in Thassos, in hotels and restaurants, held talks with ferry companies so that it don’t not happen accidentally that the “Greek Spite” would be in the middle of the tourist season and provoke protests. Fortunately, the “Greek Spite”, this southern variant of known “virtue” called “Serbian Spite”, is mitigated by Greek pragmatism. Now, when the flow of money through tourism is needed more than ever by the weakened domestic economy, the Greeks will not cut the branch on which they sit and will not allow any political and economic turbulence to endanger tourism, which has so far remained the only untouched by crisis obstacle.
Moreover, the biggest turmoil in Greece last year was caused by the fact that citizens (and those who bothered them) felt that saving measures were unacceptable and that the crisis in Greece was a consequence of Greek membership in the European Union. “The euro is to blame for everything,” it was often heard. I do not know exactly what kind of effects will have the possible transition from the euro to the drachma (i.e. leaving the euro zone), but dissatisfaction with the “rottenness of Europe” will have to disperse because the Greeks will be more independent and will no longer have anyone else to be angry at.
Anyways, even if the demonstrations were like last year or even worse, those who experienced March 9th, October 5th and student demonstrations in the 1996 can easily walk through the masses of Greek dissatisfied workers without blink of the eye. And in Thassos… they will probably forget that there is a system, not to talk about crises of sistem :-)