Q & A: Should tourists be worried about possible Grexit?

30 June 2015

TRAINING DATE: 08/08/2019

A man holds a banner supporting Greece during a protest in front of the European Union office in Barcelona, Spain. The banner reads "Greece yes, Troika no" 
A man holds a banner supporting Greece during a protest in front of the European Union office in Barcelona, Spain. The banner reads “Greece yes, Troika no”

Should tourists be worried about Greece’s possible exit from the EU?

What is happening?

The dramatic game of brinkmanship over Greece’s debts has reached a critical point. The European Central Bank has stopped its emergency funding of Greek banks. The banks have now shut – for at least a week – and there are restrictions on the amount of money that can be withdrawn from ATMs.

How will this affect holidaymakers?

Given the restrictions on ATM withdrawals, the biggest problem for visitors to Greece will be access to cash – even though these restrictions will not apply to holders of foreign bank cards, it seems unwise to rely on using ATMs.

Should I carry cash?

Yes. It is essential to take enough euro with you to cover your needs while on holiday. The Department of Foreign Affairs also advises taking more than one means of payment (cash, credit card, debit card), and enough money to cover emergencies and any unexpected delays.

Are withdrawals limited to €60 a day?

Only for Greek residents. The latest advice is that holidaymakers will have no problem accessing funds. However, there is a possibility that banking services, including servicing of ATMs, could be affected at short notice.

How can I keep my cash safe?

Travelling with cash is always risky, but you can take security precautions – for instance, and using safes and deposit boxes on holidays.

Will my credit card work?

It should do, but hotels and restaurants may be unwilling to accept card payments and insist on cash. If Greece does leave the euro, Visa said it will adapt to this – it regularly changes, adds or deletes currencies from its systems and, when a country exits a currency, the system for processing payments is still in place while the new currency is added.

Are other services affected?

“There is ample availability of both fuel and all products and services that ensure a smooth and fun stay for visitors in every city, region and the islands,” according to a statement from the Greek government’s press office.

“The tourists who are already here and those who are planning to come will not be affected in any way by the events and will continue to enjoy their holiday in Greece with absolutely no problem,” says Tourism Minister, Elena Kountoura.

What about my travel insurance?

As a rule, you should have travel insurance for any trip. Before you travel, check that your policy is in date, and that it covers travel disruption and delays that could arise from civil action such as strikes. There is also some possibility of Greek hotels and businesses failing this summer. If you have booked your holiday independently, then check that your policy includes “end supplier failure”.

Would it make my holiday cheaper?

A Grexit would certainly make holidays to Greece cheaper in the future, but probably not this summer because hotels, restaurants and tourist shops are likely to insist on being paid in euros in the short term.

Should I book a late deal?

Nervousness about the economic situation has held back bookings to Greece a little this summer.

This means that there are still some good late deals available for peak summer weeks. But, given the current crisis, it might be better to wait a few more days before snapping one of these up – and to book a package rather than travel independently. Tour operators have a legal duty of care to make sure you are looked after and that you get home if problems do suddenly arise.

Irish Independent