Lately, it seems as if the news has been flooded by the debt crisis unfolding in Greece. Photographs of protests and long lines at ATMs, news of shortage of money, bank closures, and standoffs in negotiations, have all been hounding the headlines. The country has just come to an agreement with its European creditors, but specific details and possible outcomes are still unknown.
Given everything that has been going on and all the speculation, it’s almost easy to forget that we are still talking about one of the world’s most beautiful and storied travel destinations, a place millions in the planet still dream of visiting one day. So… how is the tourism industry, particularly cruising, holding up amidst the crisis, and how much should tourists have to worry about traveling to the country at this time?
Tourism in Greece is a major contributor to the national economy. In 2014, the sector reportedly brought in $32.7 billion, accounting for 17% of GDP and 9.4% of total employment – staggering numbers, especially for a country in desperate need of revenues. A slowdown in tourism would be a bad blow for Greece.
Thankfully, they are doing what they can to keep tourists coming and to keep them from being adversely affected. For example, it has been reported that while there are ATM withdrawal limits imposed on Greek citizens, this will not apply to foreign credit or debit cards. Cruising, for one, appears to be unaffected so far. Cruise lines are watching the situation closely, but there is no news yet on any itineraries stopping in Greece being affected by the country’s economic turmoil. According to a June 30th USA Today article (see “Cruise lines react to financial turmoil in Greece”), no changes have been announced by Prestige Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., or Silversea Cruises at the time.
That said, it is still important for tourists to be wary of changing conditions and scenarios that could unfold, and they are advised to be proactive in seeking current information on the fluid situation.
The withdrawal limits, for example, may not be applicable to foreign cards – but lines for ATMs can be long, and many have been found to be emptied of cash, while some merchants have refused credit cards. The British Government, for one, had already issued a travel advisory on Greece, specifically on traveling with enough cash for everyday expenses and emergencies, and on being cautious against theft. Other people have also expressed concerns about civil unrest, or disruptions in supplies and important services like transportation. The situation is fluid, with uncertain outcomes, demanding vigilance and caution for travelers intending to continue on with their plans of visiting Greece during this time.
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^ Bergman, Jamey and Chris Gray Faust. “UK Issues Advisory for Travel to Greece, Cruise Schedules Remain Unchanged.” Cruise Critic, 30 Jun 2015. Web. 12 Jul 2015. http://www.cruisecritic.com/news/news.cfm?ID=6427
^ Harpaz, Beth J. “Tourists in Greece worry about ATMs and credit cards but most holidays unaffected.” Toronto Sun, 30 Jun 2015. Web. 12 Jul 2015. http://www.torontosun.com/2015/06/30/tourists-in-greece-worry-about-atms-and-credit-cards-but-most-holidays-unaffected
^ Kanter, James and Andrew Higgins. “Deal on Greek Debt Crisis Is Reached, but Long Road Remains.” The New York Times, 13 Jul 2015. Web. 13 Jul 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/14/world/europe/greece-debt-plan.html?_r=0
^ “Largely shielded from crisis, tourists still enjoying Greece.” Tampa Bay Times, 09 Jul 2015. Web. 12 Jul 2015. http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/tourism/largely-shielded-from-crisis-tourists-still-enjoying-greece/2236839
^ Pager, Tyler. “Greece tourism unaffected by financial crisis.” USA Today, 01 Jul 2015. Web. 12 Jul 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2015/06/30/greece-tourism-unaffected-financial-crisis/29520879/
^ Stieghorst, Tom. “Cruise lines react to financial turmoil in Greece.” USA Today, 30 Jun 2015. Web. 12 Jul 2015. http://www.usatoday.com/story/cruiselog/2015/06/30/cruise-lines-greece-economy-reactions/29507813/
^ White, Martha C. “Traveling to Greece? Great Prices, Big Problems.” NBC News, 30 Jun 2015. Web. 12 Jul 2015. http://www.nbcnews.com/business/travel/traveling-greece-great-prices-big-problems-n384376