With Greece once more in turmoil, I’ve had a lot of inquiries about how tourism is affected. The situation is volatile, with strikes and protests in the centre of Athens affecting travellers. Greeks are protesting the latest round of austerity measures which include salary and pension cuts and public service jobs cuts. Garbage has been piling up in Athens the past few days – a sure sign things are about to smell even worse. If you are in Athens, steer clear of the trouble area which is downtown. The unrest is very localised. A few streets away in the tourist area of Plaka it’s business as usual. Strikes are rolling – which means they will continue periodically.
- The ferry services will be disrupted until October 25, due to striking unions.
- A general strike on October 19 and 20 means the whole country will grind to a halt. The airport and traffic controllers are joining, and this will affect inbound and outbound international flights and domestic flights.
- Stoppages on these two days will affect transport, banks, shops, with museums and archaeological sites expected to be closed to tourists. Use cash, and don’t expect all ATMs to be stocked with cash either.
- It’s highly unusual for airports in Greece to close – there’s only been one day’s closure so far this year on October 5. The airport controllers are striking for 12 hours which will severely disrupt flights.
- Taxi drivers strike more often than other modes of transport. They have been on strike off and on for months, infuriating locals as well as visitors.
- If you are en route to the lovely Greek Islands, once you get there, if you can get there, you will barely notice anything is amiss after the strikes. As I’ve said before, no matter how troubled Greece is, its beauty is untarnished. The sun is still shining, the Ionian and the Aegean are still incomparably beautiful and Greeks welcome visitors with their legendary hospitality.
- Get travel insurance to minimise your losses in case stoppages affect you. And call your airline to see if your flights are affected, because they probably will be.
- If you have a hotel booked, and have paid a deposit, contact it immediately to discuss the situation. I should warn you some will possibly try to smooth over the uncertainty, because they need the income. A lot of tourism businesses are finding it very tough. But they also have first-hand local knowledge of the situation in their local area.