Tourists arriving pale and stressed at Athens airport on Friday came doubly prepared – as well as sunscreen and flipflops many were carrying wads of extra cash just in case there is a Greek banking collapse.
Kees van den Berg, from Utrecht, who was catching a taxi into town with his girlfriend, Martje, flashed an envelope containing €1,500. “Should do us for a week,” he said. “I’m sure the risk is exaggerated, though. I can’t see it coming to that – a huge holiday destination with no cash, at the beginning of the summer?”
European Central Bank agrees emergency funding for Greece
Greek customers withdrew more than €3bn from the country’s banks between Monday and Thursday, leading to fears of serious liquidity problems and an urgent appeal by the Greek national bank for emergency funds from the European Central Bank.
The country’s government is in a standoff with its European and international creditors over the terms of an aid-for-reforms deal the lenders have said must be agreed before they will release a final €7.2bn in bailout funds. Athens needs that money before the end of the month if it is to avoid defaulting on a €1.6bn International Monetary Fund loan and find itself unable to pay pensions and public sector wages.
Adrian Lewis, from New York state, who was heading to Crete with his partner and young daughter after a few days in Athens, said he had brought $500 with him “because I was aware of what was happening and I didn’t know what currency was going to be fluid. Dollars generally work.”
The family had also withdrawn the maximum amount of euros they could on Friday morning. “The possbility of a bank run and maybe capital controls was on my mind,” Lewis said, “but everything seems remarkably calm. There was a bit of a queue at the ATM and a few people taking photographs, but nothing to worry about. And the Greek people we’ve met have been relaxed and amazingly generous.”
Their view chimed with those of others in departures, bronzed and – in the main – relaxed, who said they had experienced no difficulties despite the looming crisis.
“Not the slightest problem,” said Andy Birbeck, from west London, who was returning home with his wife and two daughters after a week on Rhodes and a few days in Athens. “We did anticipate problems, but we probably needn’t have.”
Birbeck said the family had brought enough euros with them for their stay so used cash almost the whole time, resorting to a credit card only once. “But from what we saw it wasn’t really necessary,” he said. “Everything looked like it was working fine.”
Johanna Meyer, originally from Hamburg but currently studying in London, said she felt guilty. “There’s way too many really mean and ignorant things said about Greece in my home country,” she said. “I’ve brought €500 with me just in case of problems, and I will absolutely spend them.”
Holidaymakers warned to take plenty of cash to Greece
Kirsi Koskinen, from Tampere in Finland, who was about to go island-hopping with her husband, Arttu, and infant daughter, said she too was concerned – but not by a possible shortage of euros.
“We come each year at this time,” she said. “I love this country, I love the Greeks, and think it’s really terrible what’s happening here. Everybody should come and spend money here, everybody. They need it, really.”
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.theguardian.com