Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Rick Steves: Greece in Economic Crisis and Your Travel Dreams
Rick Steves checking out the impact of the economic crisis in Greece
June 11, 2012 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=7675 Retrieved December 2, 2012
With all the news about Greece’s economic problems, people are wondering whether it’s a good time to go there or not. I’ve surveyed my Tour Department and our Greek guides who live and work in Greece, and here’s my report…
My guides report that our Greece tours so far this spring have been as smooth and fun as ever — virtually unaffected by the local political and economic events
The big concern among the hotels and restaurants we use in Greece is whether they’ll be able to survive the downturn in tourism as many postpone their travels there, fearing “instability.” And many sights are running on their shorter winter schedules for lack of money to staff the longer summer hours.
… First and foremost, Greece is a safe place to visit. In fact, it’s a good time to visit because you will be made especially welcome. Tourism is Greece’s heavy industry and its leading employer.
It seems to me that US media coverage of Greece has been nothing less than hysterical — just plain silly at times, and woefully lacking in analysis. Greeks are emotional people, and they are given to outbursts of anger — as well as outbursts of joy. Their bad governments in recent times have given them plenty of reasons to be angry. The scenes in Syntagma, the big square immediately in front of the Greek parliament building, are a symptom of this — and act as a release valve. These scenes occur only when the parliament is voting on the hated austerity measures. When you see riots on TV, they are generally the work of a group of anarchists who are limited to Syntagma and know how to get on the news.
The big debate politically is austerity (from the right) versus no austerity (from the left). Until this all sorts itself out, I would recommend that travelers do not wear “Angela Merkel” masks. Regardless of how the debate turns out, and who emerges as the new government, Greeks of all political stripes will take care of tourism, so vital to its struggling economy. The Greeks, a welcoming people at any time, will be doubly appreciative of any visitors in these difficult circumstances.
The main impact on travelers as Greece struggles through this period will be: shorter hours of sights; intermittent strikes; and friends and loved ones back home wondering if Americans traveling in Greece are okay… http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=7675
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