Greek hoteliers forced to accept payments in foreign currencies


The suffocating conditions the bank closures have imposed on the local market have led some tourism professionals in northern Greece and on the Aegean islands to start accepting transactions with Bulgarians, Turks and other international holidaymakers in their own national currencies.

Although few such instances have been recorded to date, they are indicative of the desperate situation the market finds itself in for want of liquidity.

The financial officer of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels and head of the Laganas Hoteliers Association on Zakynthos, Christina Tetradi, says that the main problem on the Ionian island concerns the supply of hotels, both regarding food service and other materials such as cleaning goods, as most supplies are imported and there are already shortages since suppliers cannot send money abroad to import goods.

She added: “The main difficulty with the goods we can obtain from within the country, such as fruit, vegetables and eggs, is that payment has to be in cash, and corporations cannot move any cash around. Their only option is web banking.”

Furthermore, the decline in bookings from foreign markets is continuing, as is the case with online bookings, benefiting rival destinations such as Spain, Turkey and Montenegro.

Tetradi says that due to the political and economic situation in Greece, last-minute bookings (which represent about 20 percent of the total) have now stopped, while cancellations by individual travelers – that is tourists from Greece and abroad who make their own reservations and don’t use tour operators – have reached up to 80 percent. Tour operators, she adds, have not yet proceeded to any massive cancellations of group bookings.

The Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) has set up a special hotline (214.214.1000) to inform tourism professionals about corporate and operational issues. Out of the 108 calls it had received by last Friday, 30 concerned credit cards, 18 were about money forwarding, 16 about payments via the Internet, and 15 about payment delays and travel websites’ cancellation policies, among others.