ATHENS, May 19 (Reuters) - Eurobank is making a 750 million euro ($821 million) funding package available to help Greek hotels and support tourism, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis.
Rebooting the tourism sector, which employs about one in five Greeks, is viewed as central to lessening the impact of an expected deep recession, with the European Commission estimating Greece’s economy may contract by 9.7% this year.
“Eurobank is the bank of Greek tourism, we are there not only for the sunny days,” Eurobank’s CEO Fokion Karavias told reporters on Tuesday. “Supporting the hotels sector, the heart of the tourism industry, is important for the economy.”
Greece’s third-largest lender said it will offer hotel operators more than 250 million euros of immediate liquidity to help cover their working capital needs this year.
It will also offer to suspend repayments of loan principal until the end of next year for borrowers with loans which were performing up to the end of 2019.
Eurobank will also fund about 300 million euros of already approved projects in the sector, its executives said.
Banks in Greece have been working to reduce a pile of about 75 billion euros in bad loans, the legacy of a debt crisis that shrank the country’s economy by a quarter.
Asked if he feared banks could be hit by a new wave of impaired loans because of the projected recession, Karavias said a clearer picture would emerge in the second half.
“I am optimistic that this time the problem will be smaller and more manageable compared to the (debt) crisis,” he said. ($1 = 0.9140 euros) (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Alexander Smith)
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