2023 stands as yet another year marked by economic growth, and the prevailing objective is to sustain this momentum into 2024. Despite challenges such as a slowdown in the European economy, elevated inflation rates, stringent fiscal and monetary policies, and an overarching climate of uncertainty, all indicators forecast a growth rate of 2.4% for the year. This marks the third consecutive year of positive growth for the Greek economy, underscoring the nation's attractiveness for investments.
Several key factors have contributed to this upward trajectory. Structural reforms, substantial absorption of European funds, the digitization of the state, and a noteworthy contribution from green energy to the electricity generation mix have played pivotal roles in driving economic expansion.
Tourism continues to be a significant contributor to the country's GDP. Figures for the January-October period reveal a notable increase compared to 2022, surpassing even the pre-pandemic milestone year of 2019. Arrivals at major airports have seen an 11.5% uptick from 2022 and a 12% increase compared to 2019. In terms of revenue, the growth has reached 15.2% compared to 2022 and 11.3% compared to 2019.
An essential aspect of both economic development and energy autonomy is the rise of green energy. In the first nine months of the year, renewable energy sources (RES) and hydroelectric power collectively surpassed the 50% mark in meeting demand, reaching 50.2%. Even excluding hydroelectric power, RES accounted for an impressive 42.7%, surpassing the previous high of 2022 by over 5 percentage points. As part of future initiatives, Greece aims to invest in energy storage projects and grid upgrades, enhancing the utilization of energy produced on islands by interconnecting them with the central grid.
The government's commitment to economic progress is evident in its recent introduction of a comprehensive tax bill targeting tax evasion. Measures include mandatory reporting of income and expenses through the MyData token, discontinuation of cooperation between fuel trading companies and smuggling offenders, a ban on using cash in real estate transactions, and the regulation of the short-term rental market. Additionally, a fairer system of taxing freelancers has been implemented. These interventions are expected to generate an additional 3 billion in revenue annually. Starting from the next fiscal year, the government plans to allocate 481 million to the public health sector, 255 million to education, and 100 million to support vulnerable households.
As 2023 draws to a close, Greece has received international acclaim from the prestigious Economist magazine, ranking at the top of the list of 35 countries with the best economic performance for the year. Holding an investment-grade status from various rating agencies, Greece concludes the year on a successful note, eagerly anticipating an even more promising 2024.