by Ellen Jayne
The World Trade Association interviewed Socrates Sourvinos, the Consul General of Greece based in San Francisco.
Current State of Affairs in Greece
During the period of the financial crisis, Greece's GDP was slashed by approximately 25%. Still, after an enormous effort and the implementation of many economic and public reforms, the situation improved remarkably. As a result, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Greece's projected growth rate for this year might approach 6.0%. Despite the high level of volatility in the global markets, the general outlook for the country's finances remains highly positive.
Interview with Socrates Sourvinos
What are your main functions as the Consul General of Greece?
Consulates are primarily in charge of matters related to citizens. In most cases, a Consular officer assists people in addressing private matters. Furthermore, a Consulate handles economic, educational, cultural, and scientific diplomacy issues. Face-to-face meetings and personal contact with people are fundamental parts of the job. Independently of the country in which a Consulate is located, human contact and the capacity to understand the needs of one's interlocutors are prerequisites for success.
As a Consul General, my days start at the office by checking my correspondence and prioritizing the day's tasks. During the rest of the day, I usually participate in virtual or real-life meetings focusing on an array of matters.
What can we learn from the pandemic moving forward?
The pandemic wasn't a disruptor; it was an accelerator. Things expected to happen in 20 years occurred in 20 months. These days, the level of globalization is growing at a swift pace, and the world feels so much smaller than a few years ago. The internet and digital technologies have brought the world's citizens closer than ever before, and it is rather evident that global problems, such as Covid-19, need global solutions. That said, the pandemic, perceived as a common enemy, provided the opportunity for humanity to create a unified front. It seems that, at least in the sphere of science, impressive results were produced in the form of vaccines and other types of remedies.
Which changes have you seen in Greece due to the pandemic?
The pandemic is an event that future historians will rather remember for the indirect repercussions it brought to our societies. For example, remote labor and the digital nomads' trend tend to become widely accepted due to the pandemic. Regarding digital nomads, they are a category of professionals who work remotely from many different locations. Digital nomads have very particular needs, and given that they might be the first generation of truly "universal citizens," they are enforcers of change. This element means that this category of people will request unique services and arrangements (visas, schools, insurance coverage, taxation policies), therefore providing incentives to the public and private sectors to develop new services and products.
Could you explain more of the benefits digital nomads have in Greece?
Digital nomads are a special group of visitors whose stay in Greece is not limited to a specific season. They are long-term visitors whose contribution will directly benefit the country's economy. However, the indirect profits of their presence can be even more significant. The digital nomads are highly-skilled, international professionals whose extensive know-how and innovative spirit will enrich Greece's entrepreneurial ecosystem and stimulate highly creative synergies. Greece is a country well known for its natural beauty and mild weather, and I'm confident that there are many professionals, for instance, from tech companies in Silicon Valley, who will be enticed by the idea of remotely working from Athens, Santorini, or Mykonos. This perspective can be even more attractive, given that the country's human capital is highly qualified in many different fields and may use English as a working language.
As of 2022, there are 15.5 million digital nomads worldwide, moving on an average of every 6 months (Tagliaferri). According to a statistic from The 2022 State of Digital Nomads, Greece is the 22nd most visited country by digital nomads and the 5th most visited by female digital nomads ("2022 State of Digital Nomads").
"2022 State of Digital Nomads." Nomad List, nomadlist.com/digital-nomad-statistics.
"Greece - Market Overview." International Trade Administration | Trade.gov, The International
Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 11 Nov. 2021,
Tagliaferri, Costanza. "7 Exciting Statistics about Digital Nomads in 2022." ThinkRemote, ThinkRemote, 14 Mar. 2022, thinkremote.com/digital-nomad-statistics