Miles Brignall, The Guardian, June 19, 2015
Holidaymakers heading to Greece over the next few days are being advised to take plenty of cash with them amid fears the country’s cash machines could be shut down if a resolution to the crisis is not found.
As the Greek people continued to empty the country’s banks, with €1.2bn (£857m) withdrawn on Thursday alone, fears ahave grown that the banking system could be shut down.
Around 2 million Brits travel to Greece each year and falling prices in recent months led to big surge in bookings to the country, according to Abta, the group which represents travel agents and tour operators.
It is advising travellers to take “plenty of cash and a mixture of other payment methods so that they are covered for all situations”.
On Thursday the European Central Bank warned finance ministers that Greek banks “may not open on Monday”. Such a move would leave thousands of holidaymakers stranded with out access to any money.
In recent years travellers have become used to taking money out of local ATMs while abroad, and no longer board planes holding wads of cash as they once used to.
Andrew Brown, from Post Office Travel Money said: “Looking back to the last time that things reached a head in Greece in 2013, the short term impact was a lack of availability of cash at ATMs and a reluctance by shops and restaurants to accept credit or debit cards.
“With that in mind, we are advising customers travelling to Greece in the coming weeks to be prepared and ensure that they budget carefully, taking enough cash in euros to see them through their holiday.”
Rupert Lee-Browne, founder of the foreign current specialist Caxton FX,
said holidaymakers “ don’t need to go mad as local hotels and restaurants should still accept credit and other banks cards. However, you might want to take a bit more than you would normally”.
An Abta spokeswoman said so far holidays were going ahead as planned, but the industry was “monitoring the situation closely”.
“We do not anticipate that there will be any need for tour operators to rebook their customers to a different destination. At present we have no indication that holidaymakers will be disrupted. This is an unusual situation but the industry is experienced in handling unusual situations,” she said.
The Greek turmoil means holidays to Europe are becoming cheaper by the day. This morning the pound climbed above the €1.40 barrier, making meals out in France and other destinations better value.
Mark Bodega of currency firm HiFX advised traveller to watch the exchange rate “like a hawk” over the next few weeks so you can make the most of your money.
“Once the Greece situation has resolved itself, which we believe it will, the euro will strengthen driving rate back down to €1.30. One thing is certain – the markets will be volatile and keen rate watchers should grab a bargain while they can,” he said.
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