Greece Crisis?…What Crisis?
When the Greece Crisis and political turmoil in Athens was plastered all over the news, I kept getting asked if Greece was “safe” for holiday makers — a question that feels absurd to those of us who live here.
The beauty of the country has not been affected by the economic crisis. The landscape is just as beautiful as ever, the beaches just as relaxing, the sun just as warm, and the people just as wonderful. All the reasons you could ever think to visit Greece are still here, unchanged.
Tourists who travel to Greece in 2016 should have no concerns, as the danger of Greece exiting the Eurozone has passed, and given the rough negotiations and bad press of the last summer, prices in Greece have dropped.
It would be ignorant to dismiss the impact strict economic restrictions have had on the locals – and there are often queues for local banks and ATMS with disgruntled Greeks lining up, wafting themselves with napkins. But they’re grateful for tourists, not resentful.
Even as an outsider to Greece, it is easy to understand the rich family-oriented feel the country has garnered over many years of welcoming tourists to their shores.
Greece is easy on travellers. Tourism makes up 15 percent of the gross domestic product. The Greeks pride themselves on a concept called filotimo — literally love of honour, but usually meant to connote openness, friendliness, and hospitality, and many speak English.
Political protests are indeed a fairly common occurrence in Athens, and while the TV news media loves vivid footage, in reality most rallies involve zero violence. On the odd occasion violence has broken out in Athens, it has always been between police and protesters, not bystanders…and certainly not tourists out for a stroll.
So, what’s the biggest impact of the crisis on visitors? It’s the satisfaction you’ll get from contributing to the economy of a nation dealing with tough times — and the joy that comes from a tourist industry that really appreciates your presence. You won’t be alone either, with foreign visitors in 2015 reportedly passing the 25 million mark, up from the 2014 record of 21 million.
Greece has, it seems, more than its share of troubles right now, but Greeks are quick to point out that, regardless of the economy, the olives remain just as tasty, the water just as blue, and the sun — like the Greek people — just as warm. Happy Cycling…