Travelling the Greek islands
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Planning to travel to Greece this summer? You might still be questioning the destination as the choice of your holiday after months of news around Greek bailouts, demonstrations in Athens, talks of a “Grexit” (or Greece leaving the euro) and, more recently, news of migrants landing on islands such as Kos and Lesbos as they flee from countries including Syria.
But is this all a media storm? What’s it really like at the moment in the ever-popular resorts spread across Greece’s mainland and islands?
Here’s what you need to think about for a forthcoming trip to Greece.
Is it still safe to visit Greece this year?
TravelSupermarket’s advice is that, based on the current situation, it is perfectly safe to holiday in Greece.
There are no restrictions on travel to the country at present from the (FCO) which all UK tour operators abide by. The only real advice of note is to avoid demonstrations, take plenty of cash and ensure you have any necessary medical supplies with you for your holiday.
The most recently updated advice is around migrants in Kos – although it is noted that tourists in general are not affected by the operation to issue travel papers to the arrivals and the main resorts are away from the crowds in the stadium and port area.
Even back in 2012, when there were riots in the streets of Athens as the Greek problem first came to light, the FCO’s advice was not markedly different. In fact, I spent a weekend in Athens during Easter 2012 and, despite protests taking place on Independence Day while I was there, it was easy to avoid any form of trouble and to enjoy my weekend break in this wonderful city.
How can I protect myself if things do change?
Many holidaymakers will travel to the country on, the bulk of which are covered by the Civil Aviation Authority’s ATOL scheme. If Brits were advised to no longer travel to the country, tour operators have well-established contingency plans to fly their customers home quickly. Those planning to travel would have their holidays cancelled and be offered a full refund.
However, it would be extremely unlikely for us to witness mass protests on an idyllic Greek island, for example, as the locals rely so much on the tourist trade for their income that it would be self-defeating for them.
While there may be protests in the cities and larger towns, holidaymakers are unlikely to see any disruption at all if political decisions prompt protests. Over the last three years, despite the turmoil in the country, those enjoying the beaches have been able to holiday as normal with no interruptions of note.
If you have booked independently you are more at risk. If your hotelier goes out of business you will have no protection unless you have taken out a with end supplier failure as part of the cover or have paid for at least £100 of your break with a credit or debit card (as you’ll benefit from protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act or the Chargeback scheme).
You should also look out for cover to protect you from any knock-on effects of strikes, in case things such as public transport, ferries and airports are hit by action. This will give you additional support should you start to incur costs or miss flights home as a result.
I’ve already booked a holiday to Greece – what should I do?
Remember, it’s business as usual at the moment. Continue to look forward to and plan for your getaway. However, keep an eye on the press and, of course, the regularly-updated FCO travel advice.
I want to cancel my holiday to Greece – can I?
You can, of course, cancel your holiday, but you’ll find that unless the FCO changes its advice and starts telling consumers not to travel, then tour operators and airlines will not allow you to change or cancel your plans without paying charges. This can be as much as 100% of the total amount paid.
What about my travel money?
With the banking system up and running again (from July 20), you can once again access euros without too much trouble from banks and ATMS. However, you may wish to take plenty of cash in euros for your holiday. You can then still buy food and drink and enjoy normal holiday expenditure in case of any short-term ATM shortages.
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