Greece is the word, judging by the number of concerned prospective holidaymakers who have got in touch this week. The nation’s deadline for meeting its next scheduled repayment, due on 30 June, is rapidly approaching, and the Syriza government seems disinclined to meet the demands of its creditors for economic reforms.
A worrying time for the Greeks – but should holidaymakers be anxious? These are six of the questions that arrived in 24 hours between Monday morning and Tuesday morning this week.
Q My wife and I are travelling to Zante for a two-week holiday on 30 June, the same day as the Greece euro deadline. What is the worst that could happen while we are there regarding the euro?
A Lucky you. Early July is a great time to be in the Ionian islands, with the sun shining, the Med warming and the August crowds yet to arrive.
While the next 10 days are likely to be stressful for the Greek people, the vast majority of tourists will be unaffected – just as they have since the crisis began.
Were I in the fortunate position to be going, I would organise my finances as follows: credit card for some shopping and restaurant bills; a debit card for emergency cash withdrawals; cash to cover my likely expenditure, with a 20 per cent contingency, in euros.
I wouldn’t expect to use a credit card everywhere, because some shops and restaurants are declining payment by credit card (or saying the machine is broken).
At present there is no problem using debit cards at Greek ATMs. But there is a theoretical possibility that, if a rumour of imminent withdrawal from the euro starts to spread, then local people will seek to extract their funds in cash and could exhaust supplies.
So a wad of euros is the best policy. Bear in mind that most visitors to Greece, such as those from Germany and Italy, are carrying euros and will expect to spend them. Even if Greece leaves the single currency in a hurry, traders will continue to accept euros.
Corfu Q My family and I are booked to fly out to Corfu on 12 July to our favourite resort of Agios Georgios South. Should we be concerned with the fact that Greece is reportedly on the edge of an abyss? We book directly with the owner for accommodation so that should be fine but will we see airlines simply refuse to fly there out of concerns of fuel, air-traffic control fees etc?
A No. The airlines are looking forward to an extremely profitable summer flying between the UK and Greece. For example, easyJet is currently charging upwards of £600 return from Gatwick to Corfu on some dates in August. They will do all they can to make sure they fly. In the extremely unlikely event that there were fuel shortages, airlines would simply “tanker” in fuel, i.e. load enough in Britain to be able to fly back. While that may raise range issues for very long routes such as Glasgow to Rhodes, getting to Corfu and back is no problem. And given Greece’s dependence on tourism – and the lucrative earnings from overflying rights – it is extremely unlikely that air-traffic control would be hit by a crisis.
Q If, as is very likely, Greece leaves the EU, do you think I will have to get a visa for my usual independent holiday in September 2015?
A No. While Greece may possibly exit the single currency, there is no chance that the nation will leave the European Union in the near future. Normal rules on free movement continue to apply whatever the economic situation.
Q I have a villa holiday booked in Cyprus from 24 June for two weeks, but I am starting to worry about the Greek government defaulting on their debt and what effect that will have on tourists?
A The only effect of a possible Greek default that I can foresee on tourists to Cyprus is that the euro will become volatile, either losing value compared with sterling if uncertainty continues, or gaining if investors regard the eurozone actually to be stronger without Greece. If you are carrying cash in euros, you will have no reason to fret either way.
Q I am looking at booking a holiday to the Sani Resort in Greece for next year. With the possible exit from the eurozone would you recommend waiting to book 2016 travel to Greece?
A Yes, because if Greece were to leave the euro then prices of many goods and services relative to sterling are likely to be significantly lower – some economists speculate about a 40 per cent devaluation. Therefore there is a chance that committing to a rate in euros may mean you pay more than you need.