Will they, won’t they? It seems to be dragging on forever.  In fact, the fashionable word is no longer ‘Grexit’ but ‘Grimbo’, meaning Greece still in Limbo.

Personally, I believe there will be a fudged solution because neither side wants the consequences of a Greek bankruptcy.

However, let’s say that Greece does default on its debts and has to leave the European Union. First of all this would be a gradual process which would take some time, to give both the EU and Greece time to adjust.

There is no doubt that, in such a scenario, there would be currency controls because any new currency for Greece would of course automatically devalue against the Euro. There seems to be some concern that, suddenly, it would be impossible to withdraw money from cash machines, but this is highly unlikely to happen. Greece relies on tourism and is not out to destroy its one very valuable source of income. It’s interesting to recall that, when the Cypriots imposed currency controls in 2013, it was still possible to withdraw up to 200 Euros per day using a foreign (eg British) credit card; it’s quite likely that a similar system would be employed in Greece if required.

Sunvil’s contingency plans – every good tour operator should have a plan! In 2012, when Greece was going through its last bout of economic woes, we at Sunvil sent money out to all our local agents so that, had it been impossible to withdraw money from cash machines, our clients would have been able to borrow money from our agents. The plan was that we would simply take the equivalent amount from the client’s credit/debit card in the UK.  In fact, we never had to enact the plan in Greece – it simply wasn’t necessary – but our agents were certainly appreciative of the additional cash flow which they had at their disposal for several months!

In my opinion,the current period of uncertainty will continue for many months, with both sides holding their breath as deadline after deadline approaches and then somehow passes without incident.

Will holidays in Greece suddenly become much cheaper?  I doubt it. We at Sunvil will certainly continue to pay our suppliers in Euros and at the rate we have contracted. We take a long term view and we would not wish to see our partners in Greece suffer.

We’ve been asked what would happen if there was any civil unrest in Greece, or strikes. Well, last time there were serious demonstrations in Athens, several years ago, the problem area was very small and affected only the area immediately adjacent to the Parliament buildings – ie Syntagma Square – which very few of our clients frequent. There were no problems anywhere else on the mainland, and none on the islands either.  Food shortages were reported in Athens at the time, but most Greeks did what they have always traditionally done – grew their own food. There are food kitchens for locals in Athens and other major cities in Greece, but this of course also applies to London, Birmingham, Manchester and elsewhere in the UK.

As for strikes… well, during the 40-plus years that Sunvil and GIC have worked in Greece, we’ve handled more strikes than the proverbial hot dinners, year in, year out. Most of the time, our clients are unaware of any potential problems because we simply charter our own boats to replace ferries that aren’t operating etc.

For your peace of mind, should travel to Greece ever become so problematic that the FCO were to advise against it, we would simply refund any money our clients had paid us and would repatriate all those already in Greece. At any one time we have between 1,500 and 2,000 guests on the Greek mainland and on the islands. If for any reason Sunvil went into liquidation, NO clients would lose any money no matter whether in Greece or anywhere else we feature because the Air Travel Trust Fund, which is maintained by the Civil Aviation Authority and guaranteed by the Government, would step in and either refund or repatriate those who had booked with us or who were already abroad.That’s just one of the many key benefits of booking with a bonded, long-standing tour operator like Sunvil – your money is always safe, and we’ll always make it a priority to look after our clients well.

To conclude, life will carry on…As in 2012, the Greeks are baffled by the overseas reaction to what is going on. As far as they are concerned, life will simply carry on.  Currently, the cafés are full; one way or another, the Greeks will cope. They always do, as those of us who know them well have seen on many an occasion before!

The Latest ABTA Guidance On The Situation In Greece
– 16th June 2015

“Speculation about a possible Greece debt default, and potential exit from the Euro, has been current for some time, but at present remains just speculation. Any changes would be highly unlikely to happen overnight, any switch to a new currency would take time and Euros would likely be accepted in the interim. Holidaymakers heading out to Greece this summer are advised to take some cash in Euros with them as well as other payment methods (credit/debit cards) so that they are covered for all situations. We would also advise them, as we would with any destination, to take out travel insurance as soon as they book their holiday to provide protection should they need to cancel. We do not anticipate that there will be any need for tour operators to rebook their customers to a different destination. At present we have no indication that holidaymakers will be disrupted however, as with all destination matters, we will continue to monitor the situation and work with our Members on any developments. This is an unusual situation but the industry is experienced in handling unusual situations.”

In Case Of Strikes

Travel insurance policies vary and its always advisable to check the small print. Those that provide cover against strikes will only cover the holidaymaker if the strike was announced after the policy was taken out. Package holiday organisers will provide a refund or offer to rebook the customer if the Foreign Office advises against travel to a certain destination or if it is physically impossible for the holiday to take place. The 2012 demonstrations that took place in Greece were mostly focused around parts of Athens and town centres and did not impact resorts popular with British tourists. As a consequence the Foreign Office advice did not change.

Noel Josephides

Sunvil Chairman