Qatar residents who are planning to visit Greece this summer should take enough cash to cover their costs, but also take care to avoid being robbed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has said.
In a statement, the ministry reminded travelers that capital controls are still in place in Greece amid the country’s ongoing debt crisis, and that many bank ATMs there are not issuing cash.
Greece’s banks have been on the verge of collapse as Eurozone leaders held talks through last night and into this morning to reach an agreement on a bailout plan for the nation.
Early indications suggest a deal may have been reached, after Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel tweeted:
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) July 13, 2015
But no details have been revealed yet.
Greek banks shut at the end of June, and restricted people to withdrawing a maximum of €60 a day, in an attempt to avoid running out of cash.
However, many ATMs in the country have already run dry, and long queues have been reported at machines that are still issuing money, particularly in Athens and other big cities.
Earlier this week, CNBC quoted an unnamed banker as saying that Greek banks could run out of cash by today, unless the European Central Bank agrees to lend them more money.
The uncertainty has been taking its toll on tourism, with late holiday bookings to Greece falling sharply.
Compounding woes is a decision by several airlines, including Qatar Airways, to stop allowing Greek travel agents to sell their tickets, Lysandros Tsilidis, president of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) told Reuters this week.
“We consider this inexcusably tough,” he said. “Even though they have been our partners for years and even though we have already paid 82 percent of what we owe to them during this season.”
Advice to travelers
In an advisory to Qatari citizens who are heading to Greece, MOFA said tourists should “carry enough cash to cover the accommodation expenses as ATMs are out of cash due to the closure of banks there.”
It did not specify which currency to pack, but euros are presumably the best choice, as banks are shut and will not be able to do exchanges.
However, travelers have also been advised not to have large amounts of cash on them while walking around, to avoid being robbed.
An unnamed official source at the ministry’s Consular Affairs Department added:
“Qatari nationals wishing to visit Greece should contact the hotel in advance before traveling to make sure that credit cards are accepted.”
The statement also reminded travelers that remittances from outside Greece are not being received.
In the event of any issues, tourists are advised to contact the Qatar Embassy in Athens at 00306940030007.
Some Qatar residents said they planned to heed the caution:
However, one Qatar tourist to the Greek island of Rhodes said he has had no problem obtaining cash during his travels:
— Roberto Grassi (@RobertoGrassi) July 13, 2015
Are you planning to visit Greece this summer? What are your plans to pay for things?