Greece says crisis won't affect tourists, but Canada urges travellers to bring cash
60 euro limit on bank withdrawals doesn't apply to tourists
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.
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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.
- 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.
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."
"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!"