Lately I have received several emails from friends and guests asking me about our economic woes here in Greece. Has it has affected me and how and whether it will affect them should they come. One of the main points of contention is: what currency should they bring with them and is it OK to bring their credit card? There have been widespread negative rumours/news that Greece will leave the Euro and go back to the Drachma and this has naturally made many would be tourists have doubts about coming to Greece this summer.
My country has fallen victim to all sorts of negative press. When I was in New York this past winter I was amazed to hear on the news that the New York Stock Exchange fell because something happened in Greece. I should be honoured by this fact but I think that is somewhat unrealistic to me that a country of Greece’s size and economic power would have any effect on the world economic market. Of course, some would say that World War I was started with the assassination of a no-body crown prince in Serbia.
OK then, let’s look at what is really bothering these massive institutions in America and in Europe – mainly Greece’s departure from the Euro. Mind you none of our politicians nor the people of Greece wants this. Most political parties have voiced their commitment to the Euro. While polls show that the Greek people are one of the strongest supporters for the common currency in Europe. Personally I like the Euro as it brought stability to the prices even though initially we had inflation. I no longer have to see my savings devalue every year, nor do I have to redo my menu every year to do new prices, the latter not being of any importance in the scheme of things.
Another matter of contention is our indecisiveness to elect a government – but can you blame us as our choices are adequate at best? We need great leadership to get through this crisis but I see none, nor do I see any great leadership from the other countries. If anything I think they have made the situation worse! And yet these gloom and doom scenarios still persist in the world news on a daily basis.
The next election, on Sunday the 17th of June, is a democratic process which will have an outcome regardless of the time it will take for us to choose a government. I also think by not electing a government during the June the 6th election the Greek people have sent a message to those concerned basically saying: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
The bad publicity that my country has had to endure these last 3 years have only made matters worse for us as it means that less people are likely to come out on holiday. Tourism employs nearly a million people and most of these have small businesses such as mine and in similar communities, such as Agios Stefanos Beach. The tourist sector roughly contributes one-fifth of the Greek GDP and Greece’s recovery will depend greatly on our hospitality industry to come out of this crisis.
Being an observant person by nature and to answer my original questions, I have to ask another question: who will profit by tourists not bringing their foreign currencies to Greece? The only answer I come up with is: their home banks. Greece’s local banks have always given a better exchange rate than the foreign home banks. The reason for this is quite obvious: the local Greek banks want your trade and your foreign exchange so they are willing to give you a deal!
As for what people visiting Greece will find when they come out here is this: There will be none of the gloom that is painted abroad but the same friendly faces that practice filoxenia (literally, “love of strangers”). They will see the same tranquil, picturesque and warmly welcoming communities they have always seen! For despite this hardship we may face, Greece will always welcome its visitors with open arms — today, more than ever!