Holidaymakers are warned that cash machines in the country are swiftly being emptied and trying to use debit or credit cards may prove futile as businesses desperately try to get hold of cash.
Greece is dangerously close to having to leave the eurozone after pleas for an extension of bailout plans over a €1.6bn debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund were rejected.
The Greek government has announced that banks will be closed all week, and Britain’s Foreign Office has advised tourists they may not be able to access cash in the country.
Tens of thousands of British and Irish people make tourist trips to Greece every year, and Bob Atkinson, a travel expert at website TravelSupermarket.com, said those travelling this summer should take steps to ensure they are not left stranded without access to money — a position echoed by the Association of British Travel Agents.
He also urged tourists to take out insurance that will cover them against travel disruption. Cash withdrawals from ATMs in Greece have been limited to €60 a day, and Atkinson said people have been queuing up to empty machines of whatever they can get, amid reports that only 40% of ATMs have money in them.
He said: “The likelihood of you finding an ATM now with cash in it every day is slim, so we are now saying you should take enough cash in euro to last for your entire holiday because we don’t know how long it will be before the ATMs are back to working normally.
“Some people might say just pay for everything on card, but the problem with that is that many small retailers, such as restaurants, cafes and bars, are saying they don’t want cards, they want cash.”
Atkinson advised tourists to take all the money they think they will need in cash, and to have cards as back-up.
Those travelling independently by booking their own flights and accommodation should ensure they have a policy with cover for “end suppliers failure”, he added.
“That will cover you if you have booked independent travel arrangements and a hotelier or car rental company or whatever in case they go out of business,” said Atkinson.”
He also recommended those considering a trip to Greece and who are yet to book to ensure they opt for a holiday backed by the Civil Aviation Authority’s Atol scheme, which would offer protection against cancellations and delays