Despite the catastrophe that is the current Greek economy, the country’s profitable tourism industry appears surprisingly unaffected.
Tourism brought in around EUR 29.4 billion in 2014, which made up more than 17% of the country’s GDP. The industry also contributed to 9.4% of total employment, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
“For international people going on vacation to Greece, there’s absolutely no difficulty at the moment,” said David Scowsill, president and CEO of the WTTC. “Greece is always a very popular destination for Europeans and it’s a good value-for-money destination. If there’s going to be any difficulties, it will come slightly later in this process.”
Greek citizens are currently limited to withdrawing EUR 60 dollars per day from Greek banks. However, Greece’s Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism Ministry released a statement Monday confirming that those limits do not apply to people using foreign credit or debit cards.
“The tourists that are currently in Greece as well as those that are going to come will not be at the least affected by the latest developments and can continue to enjoy their vacations in Greece without the slightest problem,” said Alternate Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura.
However, some ATMs have been running out of bills as people scramble to prepare for the referendum this Sunday, July 5, in which citizens will vote on whether to accept the latest bailout deal and the accompanying new austerity measures. If Greeks vote against the deal, it may indicate a withdrawal from the eurozone.
“Right now, everybody’s aware that Greece is going to hold the referendum on Sunday and in the meantime, it’s business as usual,” said Konstantinos Georgiadis, the general manager of Amphitrion Holidays, an American tour company which runs trips to Greece.
Tourism is the lifeblood of Greece’s economy, added Georgiadis. So far, he said 2015 has been one of the best for Greece tourism, with travel groups, cruises and hotel bookings on the rise as is usual during the peak summer months.
“It’s very, very important for Greece,” he said. “The summer period opens up opportunities for part-time jobs especially for young people who have been hit hard by the economic crisis.”