There has been a set-back for Greece as the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s warned Athens would be considered to be in default under a plan being pushed by French banks for a rollover of the country privately-held debt.
S&P’s comment caused the euro to slip in value and brought no immediate response from the Greek finance ministry which says its next job is to halt the recession there and return the economy to growth while also paying back the money it owes.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos recently said: “We must respect our international obligations before our partners and lenders.We know very well how difficult the situation is, and also understand our obligation to implement the measures and the programme without delays and hesitations.”
A big part of the Greek economy is based on tourism and the recent violent anti-austerity protests may have dealt a blow to that industry.
For one Spanish tourist in Athens, it was a familiar scene. She said: “It is like in Spain. We have the same situation. The people in Spain demonstrated because the situation there is very bad.”
While a French tourist said: “You get the sense that the Greeks really need the money, they jump on you, we are being offered very, very cheap hotel prices, for example.I don’t know if that is due to the financial crisis or the season.”
Tourism officials say the protests may have hurt Greece’s image abroad but they believe the sector will rebound this year. They had better be right as tourism accounts for one in five jobs in the country and 16 percent of Greece’s GDP.