Agents, Suppliers Say It’s (Almost) Business As Usual For Greece Travel

Open Jaw

Suppliers and agents sending travellers to Greece are keeping a close eye on the situation, but so far none of those interviewed by Open Jaw see any reason to postpone travel to the financially troubled nation.

“Transat is closely following the situation and our teams are in communication with local authorities,” says Denise Heffron, V.P. National Sales & Commercial for Transat. “It is business as usual. Tourist activities and operations are being conducted as normal. All transactions made by debit and/or credit cards issued abroad are accepted - these methods of payment should be prioritized over cash transactions.”

At Air Canada Vacations, V.P. Sales Amr Younes echoed Heffron, saying there are no changes to ACV’s Greece program. The only differing advice is that ACV is advising travellers to bring cash “as the ATM machines may not work.”

Danny Nessinis of Greek travel specialist Skyway Tours on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue – the traditional heart of the city’s Greek community, says he is “not seeing any panic” on the part of consumers. “We’ve had no cancellations and people are still booking. We are very optimistic that tomorrow there will be a resolution to the crisis, but in the meantime we have to be honest with consumers and tell them how the situation stands. Mainly we advise to take Euros and they will be fine.”

Denis Codere of SkyGreece, the fledgling airline that recently launched Canada-Greece flights, says the airline is continuously evaluating the situation and “whether we see any risks in the current market.”

A call-around to several agencies also found little concern, aside from the proviso of bringing ample cash, although a couple said anecdotally that some potential travellers are being scared off.

“General conversation with friends and family is that they would not travel there right now unless on a cruise ship,” said Sheila Little of Maritime Travel in Belleville.

Marlene Brumby of Kitchener’s Northstar Travel says she hasn’t seen any difference in enquiries about travel to Greece. “It’s still perceived as a good deal. If there’s any change at all it’s around Europe in general because of the exchange rate.”

Global Business Travel Association Executive Director & COO Michael W. McCormick says the current situation could actually lead to an increase in travel to Greece, “as leisure and business travellers alike take advantage of favourable exchange rates and lower prices from everything from hotels, air fares and rental cars.”

“Importantly,” McCormick adds, “there are no ATM restrictions for travellers. International tourists traveling with credit cards and bank cards will still have access to cash. So one of the most helpful things that we can do for Greece is to continue to travel there, whether for business or holiday travel.”

In terms of business travel, McCormick says Greece isn’t a major player, especially as its economy has contracted by 25% in recent years. His fear is that the troubles in Greece could spread further in the Eurozone, and potentially cause a global economic downturn.

Pending further developments, it appears that it is close to business as usual for Canadian travel to Greece.

“The sales pace remains normal,” says Transat’s Heffron. “We have no changes planned at this time.”

(will not be published)