When Travel becomes an Act of Solidarity
It's no news that Greece is in serious financial trouble. The crisis has been bubbling quietly underground for a number of years, but now, with unpaid loans rising and EU Prime Ministers breathing heavily on the Greek government's neck, the situation has reached an all time peak.
The people have refused the severe austerity measures proposed for another bailout (rightly so), but with European leaders back to the drawing board, the country is in a state of uncertainty until a new agreement is reached. Greek banks are still closed, and ATM withdrawals have been severely restricted, because they lack the cash to provide people with their own money. It's a sad scenario to say the least.
But what does this mean for travelers? Should you cancel your holiday, or not consider visiting Greece at all until the problem is solved (which will probably mean years)?
No. Although the situation is very uncertain and likely to change at any second, reports from Athens and the rest of Greece show that the situation on the streets is not as tense as the media would like us to believe. Sure, there are some queues at ATMs, but there has been no violence, or increased crime.
If anything, there are even more reasons to visit Greece this summer. Why? What Greece and its people are lacking right now is cash. This is exactly what you, the visitor, can help inject in the economy - which means that as a traveler you will be welcomed wholeheartedly and will be helping greatly the people, something which the leaders of our countries are failing to do, despite their great speeches and promises. The Greeks have stood up for their own economic freedom - this takes courage and should be rewarded, not punished.
This crisis has affected its people in that they are even more welcoming and hospitable - they are aware that traveling to Greece is a choice you have made despite the risks, and they appreciate your choice. That ticket you bought was an act of solidarity which you should be proud of.
Another reason for visiting is that despite the political turmoil, the country's beauty remains unparalleled. Historical sites? You got it. Crystalline beaches? Spoilt for choice. Mouthwatering Mediterranean food? Don't get me started...
The truth is that visiting Greece right now is a win-win situation. You get to enjoy one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world, whilst helping out a nation brought to its knees by a failed international capitalist system.
Whilst Greece is safe and gorgeous to be in, precautions should always be taken. Invest in travel insurance, make sure your itinerary is well planned, and take some extra cash with you. That's pretty much it - see you in Greece!