It’s been all over the news for the past week – and the economic crisis in Greece isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And it’s affecting more than just the country’s native people. The impact’s being felt right across Europe.
Greece is, to put it simply, in deep trouble financially. The country has borrowed over €220bn from various organisations (and you thought the £20 you owed your mum was bad), and the majority hasn’t been paid back. Over the weekend, they failed to pay off an instalment of €1.6bn to the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the same day their bailout expired, meaning Greece is one step closer to bankruptcy and may even get thrown out of the euro. It’s bad news for individuals and businesses in Greece.
If you’re off on your jollies to the likes of Kos, Zante or Crete, it could impact you too. If the banks collapse, closures continue or cash withdrawal restrictions come into place, it could put a spanner in the works for your holiday plans. It’s wise to be prepared before you start chucking your flip flops and factor 50 (it’s hot, guys) in your suitcase, so here’s the lowdown for tourists jetting to Greece this summer.
In Greece, locals are facing a €60 limit on cash withdrawals from ATMs. While the restriction isn’t in place for tourists, the Foreign Office are recommending that you take all the cash you’re going to need with you to avoid lengthy queues and just in case the banks decide tourists are going to be limited with withdrawals too. Many machines on mainland Greece are starting to run out of cash too as locals hurry to get all their money out while they can.
If you are taking wads of wonga with you, make sure your hotel room has a safe or safety deposit box where you can store your euros to avoid carting your summer savings about with you everywhere you go. If you lose it or run into trouble, it could be disastrous. Take your cash card with you in case of emergencies, but you’re better off avoiding cash points.
If you’ve got a credit card, you’ll still be able to use it in most large shops, restaurants and hotels. However, smaller retailers are in the business of going cash only to up their cash flow and the card networks could collapse at any time, so it’s best not to rely on your credit card.
Banks in Greece have been closed for the last week, meaning those with traveller’s cheques haven’t been able to cash them in. Nightmare. It’s better to take your money in cash just in case a similar wave of closures crops up later in the summer.
You’ll obviously be sorting out travel insurance before you travel, but double check the small print before you go. Make sure your money will be covered in case you do run into trouble, and consider going for the ‘travel disruption’ option in your policy. This’ll cover you in case your flight is delayed or cancelled, you have to abandon your trip, miss your departure or in case there’s civil unrest in the country – which isn’t out of the question when Greece is in such a sticky situation.
Speaking of which… As with any country in times of political, civil, economic or social unrest, protests, strikes and demonstrations are happening all over Greece and these can be dangerous. Stay safe and try to avoid such situations if you can – things can turn violent, and you do not want to end up having to make the call to your parents telling them you got into trouble.
This week, it’s highly possible that Greece will leave the euro. But if you head off with a suitcase full of the European currency, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be turned away at the door of every bar you go to if Greece has to pull out of the Eurozone in the weeks ahead. It’ll still be accepted for the next few months while the transition takes place.
The best advice of all? Plan ahead, think sensible and stay safe. For the majority of holidaymakers, you’ll still be in for a great time with the beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and incredible weather Greece has to offer, but you can never be too prepared. So sensible heads on please – and don’t forget to enjoy yourselves too.
Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website here to keep up to date with the latest recommendations and advice before you travel.