Travel Agents

Agent advice: Get the grit on Greece

Daisy Melwani

If you’ve got clients heading to Greece, or some mulling over a booking, here’s what you need to know.

Australians travelling to Greece have been warned to bring enough euros to cover any unforeseen “emergencies” during the country’s debt crisis, but to take sensible precautions against theft, the Department of Foreign Affairs warns.

While DFAT advises that processing credit cards could be limited and new rules imposed last Sunday limits Greek citizens to withdrawing a maximum of €60 at ATMs to prevent the banking system from collapsing, these restrictions do not apply to cardholders of foreign accounts.

Therefore, Australian holidaymakers and business travellers are able to continue to withdraw cash from ATMs, and furthermore, local wholesalers specialising in Greece tourism told Travel Weekly there has been no impact on the use of foreign credit cards in regular retail shops or hotels according to their ground contacts.

Tourism is vital to the country’s economy, indirectly contributing 16% of its GDP in 2013 and as much as €45 billion in indirect spending, but the economic crisis is causing a ripple effect of panic across the industry with The Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers reportedly holding an emergency meeting yesterday despite major hotels in popular hot spots of Mykonos, Santorini, Crete and Corfu reporting of no major cancellations.

Sydney-based wholesalers Sun Island Tours (SIT) and Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre (GMTC) both told Travel Weekly they had received calls yesterday from several travel agents enquiring about the situation, but advised it is “business as usual” for tourists visiting the country.

“It’s very easy, there’s no issue at all for tourists. There have been absolutely no interruptions for tourists to enjoy their holiday,” GMTC managing director Halina Kubica said.

“They (tourists) can still withdraw cash and all shops as usual are taking credit cards. The ATM machines are working, but there may be queues especially in Athens so we recommend they take more cash (in euros) than they would normally.”

Meanwhile, SIT reassured agents: “The Greek people are committed to their tourism industry, and as such are focused on welcoming tourists and minimising disruption to holidays wherever possible. Clients currently in Greece have reported that their holidays are continuing smoothly, and we anticipate that they will continue to do so for this week and beyond.”

Kubica also added that she had not received any calls from distressed clients currently in Greece, and that even a pre-scheduled ferry strike had been cancelled to operate per schedule.

Meanwhile, Sun Island Tours managing director John Polyviou and Kubica both claim June bookings for Greece were up around 30% year-on-year and that no cancellations had been recorded following last weekend’s debt crisis.

“Business for Greece this year has been amazingly good … the increase has been significant. We’re trying to find rooms,” Kubica said.

“I don’t think we should put any panic into tourists, there’s no problem at all and people should not reconsider their need to travel. The economic situation only affects Greeks as it has done for the last several years. The Greeks appreciate the tourists coming and client satisfaction (ratings) is very good,” Kubica added.

Greece welcomed more than 22 million tourists from across the globe last year, climbing 23% in 2014.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

One response to “Agent advice: Get the grit on Greece”

  1. Greeks will almost certainly be back to Drachma in around a week. If going to Greece, think US dollars in cash, might be the only way to go. Could be issues with credit cards, as Drachma will drop like a stone in value to be almost worthless. At least Greece will become cheap again, very cheap.
    Airlines in Greece will probably close down, unless they have a lot of inbound business. Outbound business from Greece will surely plummet.

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