Greek business leaders express optimism over coronavirus impact, officials suggest calm

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-29 10:05:58|Editor: huaxia

PIRAEUS, Greece, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- In face of the novel coronavirus epidemic, Greek entrepreneurs remain optimistic that the impact will recede soon and markets will return to normality with minor wounds compared to previous crises.

Greek Shipping and Island Policy Ministry on Friday hosted a briefing at its premises at the Piraeus port for key representatives of the maritime and tourism industries, two vital pillars of the Greek economy for decades which withstood even the acute debt crisis that started in 2009.

The country's Health Ministry on Thursday announced one new confirmed case of COVID-19, raising the number to four.

The Greek authorities have started gradually implementing measures before the first case was reported in the country on Wednesday, especially in entry points such as airports and ports.

"Information is the best tool one can have to face with calm and wisdom the issue in the best manner," Christiana Kalogirou, general secretary of Aegean and Island Policy, told reporters after the meeting on the contingency plan drafted to prevent the spread of the virus and deal with cases on land and at sea.

"The Health Ministry has provided guidelines and relevant authorities in all ports are following these guidelines," Kalogirou said Friday.

George Panagiotakopoulos, vice president of Greece's National Public Health Organization, called on people to stay calm. "Guidelines are reviewed according to each instance. It is very important to not allow panic to prevail."

Greek enterprises have yet to feel any major negative influence from the virus, but are closely following the possible effect particularly on tourism, representatives said.

"The season has not started for us yet, but it is already underway for cruise ships and it is quite difficult at the moment to manage what has started in our country," Antonis Stelliatos, president of the Hellenic Professional Yacht Owners Association, told reporters.

So far the sector hasn't reported significant cancellations, he said.

"If tourism does not perform well, this will be very negative for the Greek economy," he said, voicing his confidence that the epidemic will be over soon.

For Vassilis Korkidis, president of Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, March and April will be very crucial to see the extent and measure the effect. "I think we will be able to better estimate the impact of the coronavirus in the next two months," he told Xinhua in an interview at his office.

"I want to believe that the entire situation will have normalized by the summer," Korkidis added.