The real deal: what the locals say about tourism and travel in Greece
Tina Kyriakis runs Alternative Athens walking tours in the capital
It’s very quiet in Athens at the moment but most shops are still open and we haven’t seen any problems with supplies or food. I’m not panicking, but I am concerned because this was a very good year – in June our business had doubled.
Dimitris Sarris runs the Hotel Liotopi, Olympiada, Halkidiki
The media shows a state of chaos and anarchy – it’s really damaging. I received an email today from a couple asking if there was still watered in our country. We stay calm and explain that the situation is not like that.
Theodoros Politis owns Ocean’s Restaurant in Vassiliki, Lefkada
The ATMs are running out of money and you see people spending less at the end of their holiday than the beginning. I am thankful to people who continue to visitGreece after all the trouble. Tourists will get the same service and the same smile as ever. I have about a fifth fewer customers than last year. There aren’t as many new faces, only the regulars who are not put off by the negative news. For the past month I have only accepted payment by cash but, when the government reaches a solution, I will be happy to take card payments again.
Mat Dean publishes Inside the Mani magazine and guidebooks to the southern Peloponnese
In the week before the referendum, we had a slight panic buy on petrol and one of our local petrol stations ran out … for half a day. And my 77-year-old mother bought 10 bars of Cadbury Fruit and Nut! Greeks are understandably cancelling in fairly significant numbers but I was on the beach in Stoupa last night and it very much felt like business as usual – bars and tavernas full of people strolling up and down the promenade.
Antonis Gikas, manager of Hotel Romvi, Tolo, Argolida county, Peloponnese
The normal number of reservations are not happening – and we have no Greek tourists at all. There are media photos showing pensioners waiting outside closed banks – but, in reality, they are all receiving their pensions. It is standard practice in Greece for old people to wait outside the banks before they open, sometimes from 7am. We are the same people, with the same beautiful places. That has not changed.
Antonios Maniatis owns Kivo Art & Gourmet Hotel, Skiathos in the Aegean
My biggest worry is cancellations but we haven’t had any and the hotel is currently fully booked. However, we have not yet had any new bookings for September. Local Greeks often eat at the hotel restaurant but they are spending less. The biggest day-to-day problem is that the banks are closed, which affects payment methods. Greeks queue at the ATMs to take out €60 a day, but this is not enough to run a hotel. How can I pay my suppliers or get paid by tour operators if the banks remain closed?
George Kyriakos owns Nautilus Diving Club in Vassiliki bay, Lefkada
We are lucky that Vassiliki attracts people with specific interests, like diving and windsurfing, and my bookings are even better than last year. But I have heard from diving colleagues that some other Greek islands are suffering. Tourism is the biggest industry here. Greek visitors have already disappeared and it would be a disaster if foreign tourists stopped visiting, too.
Georgios Karimalis runs Ikarian Wine, an agrotourism centre offering wine and cooking courses on Ikaria in the Aegean
Our economy here is more self-sufficient than a place like Athens. Most locals grow a big part of their food and produce energy using solar or biomass methods. Ikarians use two times less fossil fuel for heating than average in Greece. Potential visitors should ignore those who tell them they might have problems in our island and country.
Michael Cullen is editor of boutique hotel website i-escape.com and a regular traveller to Greece
I have spoken to hoteliers this week, in the Peloponnese and in Athens, and to my dad who lives in Athens. All said there is no shortage of any supplies; probably the first thing to run out will be heating oil in due course, but that is not an issue for coastal areas yet. Greeks have bartering in their veins and are falling back on extended-family and community networks to swap goods, rather than buy and sell. Most hotels continue to take card payments but very reluctantly, because of a fear that they won’t be able to access all the money. My dad said Athens is peaceful and he has actually seen some new businesses (mostly cafes) opening recently. He says high-street shops and supermarkets are not discounting any more than usual.
Christos Tsiotras is manager and guide for Skiathos Mountain Bikes
Luckily, this summer has been busy but I worry about the next few months. Business is down in my other jobs – renting rooms and selling flowers – because Greek people are worried about spending. It’s good that Skiathos is so beautiful and easy to get to by air. If tourism continues, I feel positive about the future.
Elena Soutari, manager of Hotel Porto Scoutari
Everything is working fine on Patmos right now. There are no shortages of anything. As long as we don’t have cancellations, which we haven’t had so far, the season looks good. My hotel is almost fully booked for the summer, but we will gladly help visitors find another place. Or come in September – the sea is warm, the sun shines, and it’s a beautiful month here.