Tourists told to pay with cash in GreeceUPDATE July 01, 2015:
Travellers heading to Greece should make sure they bring enough euros in cash to cover emergencies, given that banks in the country will be closed from June 29 to July 6 2015, advised the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The Greek government decided to close the banks and establish strict limits on ATM withdrawals after bailout negotiations between the country and its creditors stalled over the weekend.
The Greek government said it is not limiting withdrawals on cards issued outside of Greece, but long lines have formed at ATMs in the country, making it difficult to get cash quickly, according to reports.
The system for paying with debit and credit cards for retail transactions continues to function, noted the U.K. government, but travelers should have sufficient cash with them in case those banking services fail.
Travellers should take appropriate security precautions against theft, added the UK government.
Bailout terms from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have been rejected by the Greek government. The Greek people will vote on whether to accept the terms in a snap referendum on July 5. If the vote is no, Greece could default on its debt and leave the eurozone.
UPDATE June 29, 2015
Tourists are being advised to carry cash to pay for expenses in Greece as the country’s financial crisis worsens.
Automated-teller machines are running dry and many businesses are no longer accepting credit cards. The Greek government is also closing its banks for six days to prevent the banking system from collapsing.
Foreign visitors who find themselves unable to pay for services or meals may have to cut short their holidays, while those who are booked to visit Greece during the peak holiday season may have to reconsider their plans.
Last year, tourism directly contributed €17 billion (US$19 billion), or 9% of Greece’s gross domestic product.
“There are many rumours about capital controls so I am asking clients for cash, as returns from credit cards won’t be readily available,” Apostolis Gionas, a souvenir-shop owner in the central Athens district of Plaka, told the Wall Street Journal.
“In return I offer them discounted prices, but many tourists just leave. Every day that passes we are heading closer to total financial ruin.”