Greece says crisis won't affect tourists, but Canada urges travellers to bring cash

Greece, at pains to protect one of the economy's only bright spots, rushed on Monday to assure tourists that their holidays would be untouched by the restrictions imposed to protect the tottering banking system.

60 euro limit on bank withdrawals doesn't apply to tourists

Greece on the verge of default

7 years ago
Duration 2:56
The Greek prime minister interrupted weekend debt talks with the European commission by calling for a referendum on terms for a bailout extension

Greece, at pains to protect one of the economy's only bright spots, rushed on Monday to assure tourists that their holidays would be untouched by the restrictions imposed to protect the tottering banking system.

The government on Sunday ordered banks to close for a week and imposed capital controls as it lurched toward a default in a dramatic standoff with international creditors who have been keeping the country solvent.

But it stressed that credit or debit cards issued abroad would be unaffected by a 60 euro ($84 Cdn) per day limit on withdrawals from cash machines — a relief for tourists, whose spending drives just under a fifth of Greece's economic output.

"I personally don't know much about it," said American Jamie Boyatsis, 22, from New Hampshire, watching the changing of the guard outside parliament in Athens with her family.

"I'm not overly worried about it, and it shouldn't disrupt my holiday."

Canada's government, meanwhile, updated its travel advisory for Greece, telling travellers that banks will be closed until July 7 and to expect long lines at ATMs.

"Plan to have more than one means of payment (cash, debit cards, credit cards) and ensure that you have enough cash to cover unexpected travel expenses," the updated advisory says.

Tourists won't face 'any inconvenience'

Major tour operators in Germany, one of the biggest feeder markets to Greece, reported no immediate impact; local hoteliers said it was too early to gauge if there had been any effect.

It's positive that visitors won't have any immediate problem from capital controls.- Yiannis Retsos, head of the Association of Athens Hoteliers

Greeks will vote on Sunday to decide whether to accept or reject the terms of an aid-for-reform deal from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. If they vote No, as their government recommends, it may spell the end for Greece's membership of the euro zone.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki Monday night to protest against the austerity measures Greece's creditors want the country to adopt in order to be able to repay its massive debt. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)
"It must be crystal clear what is being decided: It is essentially the question, yes or no to remaining in the eurozone," German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he would respect the result of the vote but would not lead a government to administer "austerity in perpetuity."

"If the Greek people want to have a humiliated prime minister, there are a lot of them out there. It won't be me," he said in an interview on Greek state television as thousands of people rallied outside parliament to show their support of the government's rejection of the tough international bailout conditions.

Greece still a 'great value'

But weathering the currency crisis won't be easy. Some Greek businesses were already complaining on Monday that they could not pay salaries or suppliers and had had to halt imports.

But the Tourism Ministry said it did not expect tourists to suffer, saying in a statement that it "does not expect any inconvenience ... either on the islands or in mainland Greece, as there are adequate fuel supplies, products and services."

Yiannis Retsos, head of the Association of Athens Hoteliers, said: "Now things are clarified, it's positive that visitors won't have any immediate problem from capital controls."

At the moment, he said, it was "business as usual."

Greece's Tourism Ministry insists tourists, who drive one-fifth of the country's economic output, won't be affected by the capital controls imposed Monday. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press)
The German tour operator TUI said on Monday its packages were unaffected by the restrictions, and that Greece remained one if its most popular destinations.

"For our customers, this (the crisis) not an issue," a spokesman said.

Thomas Cook told its holidaymakers travelling to Greece to take euros in small denominations, but stressed that the country remained "great value."

"A Greek exit from the eurozone would have little impact on the holidays customers have already booked with us, as all pre-paid services are provided by Thomas Cook," it said in a statement.

While Greeks queued at cash machines, tourists on the whole appeared unfazed.

Philip Boyatsis, uncle of Jamie, said: "We did get a bit more cash yesterday when we arrived, but we don't expect any problems. I'm off to enjoy my holiday in Mykonos!"


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?