Greek expectations modest as tourists trickle back

Greek island resorts are slowly welcoming back tourists after months of closure due to the coronavirus disease, with only a few months of holiday season left. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 04 July 2020

Greek expectations modest as tourists trickle back

  • Greeks are optimistic something can be recovered from the season, banking on the record of Greek authorities in keeping a lid on the outbreak by locking down early

RHODES: Shops shuttered and streets abandoned, the island of Rhodes is pinning its hopes on a trickle of tourists to salvage a holiday season decimated by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

One of Greece’s busiest resort islands, the cobbled streets of the imposing medieval city of Rhodes town were empty this week. At this rate, only a few hotels will open this year, locals say.
“We have never experienced anything like this, not at least for the past 50 to 60 years,” said Manolis Markopoulos, head of the hoteliers association in Rhodes.
Greece opened its regional airports, including in Rhodes, to travelers this week.
At present, only about 20 percent of hotels are open, and the next two weeks will be an important gauge of how the season will perform, Markopoulos said.
“If we show 20-25 percent compared to performance last year that would be a happy outcome,” he said.

FASTFACT

Greece’s tourism sector accounts for a fifth of its economic output and employs 700,000 people.

The picture on nearby Kos was similar, with rows of empty sunloungers distanced to meet rules.
Greeks are optimistic something can be recovered from the season, banking on the record of Greek authorities in keeping a lid on the outbreak by locking down early. It has recorded fewer than 3,500 cases of COVID-19 and 192 deaths.
“It might just be time for Greece to reap returns from its excellent performance in managing the pandemic,” said Konstantina Svinou, head of the Kos hotels association.
Others just want to keep their heads above water. Greece’s tourism sector accounts for a fifth of its economic output and employs 700,000 people.
“We want to believe that even with 30-40 percent occupancy that we will meet some fixed expenses, that staff can get their salaries and pay social insurance to be able to get the unemployment benefit in the winter,” said Hasan Hadji Suleyman, a bar and restaurant owner in Kos.


Trump advisers urge delisting of US-listed Chinese companies that fail to meet audit standards

Updated 07 August 2020

Trump advisers urge delisting of US-listed Chinese companies that fail to meet audit standards

  • Growing pressure to crack down on Chinese companies that avail themselves of US capital markets but do not comply with rules
WASHINGTON: Trump administration officials have urged the president to delist Chinese companies that trade on US exchanges and fail to meet US auditing requirements by January 2022, Securities and Exchange Commission and Treasury officials said on Thursday.
The remarks came after President Donald Trump tasked a group of key advisers, including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, with drafting a report with recommendations to protect US investors from Chinese companies whose audit documents have long been kept from US regulators.
It also comes amid growing pressure from Congress to crack down on Chinese companies that avail themselves of US capital markets but do not comply with US rules faced by American rivals.
“We are simply leveling the playing field, holding Chinese firms listed in the US to the same standards as everyone else,” a Treasury official told reporters in a briefing call about the report.
The US Senate unanimously passed legislation in May that could prevent some Chinese companies from listing their shares on US exchanges unless they follow standards for US audits and regulations.
Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, who sponsored the bill described the recommendations as “an important first step,” but said that “without the added teeth of our bill, this report alone does not implement the requirements necessary to protect everyday American investors.”
The administration’s recommendations, if implemented via an SEC rulemaking process, would give Chinese companies already listed in the United States until Jan. 1, 2022, to ensure the US auditing watchdog, known as the PCAOB, has access to their audit documents.
They can also provide a “co-audit,” for example, performed by a US parent company of the China-based affiliate tasked with auditing the Chinese firm. However, companies seeking to list in the United States for the first time will need to comply immediately, the officials said.
A State Department official told Reuters the administration plans soon to scrap a 2013 agreement between US and Chinese auditing authorities to set up a process for the PCAOB to seek documents in enforcement cases against Chinese auditors.
China said on Friday that the two countries have “good cooperation” in monitoring publicly listed firms.
“The current situation is that some US monitoring authorities are failing to comply with their obligations, and what they are doing is political manipulation — they are trying to force Chinese companies to delist from US markets,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing.
The PCAOB has long complained of China’s failure to grant requests, giving it scant insight on audits of Chinese firms that trade on US exchanges.
The report also recommends requiring greater disclosure by issuers and registered funds of the risk of investing in China, as well as mandating more due diligence by funds that track indexes and issuing guidance to investment advisers about fiduciary obligations surrounding investments in China.
The moves come amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over China’s handling of the coronavirus and its moves to curb freedoms in Hong Kong, among other issues.