Last updated: 01:16 PM ET, Mon July 06 2015

So Far, Greece 'No' Vote Not Deterring Tourism

Destination & Tourism | David Cogswell | July 06, 2015

So Far, Greece 'No' Vote Not Deterring Tourism

Apparently the travelers of the world have no intention of abandoning Greece after the country’s defiant No vote on last weekend’s referendum.

After the Greek population voted by an overwhelming margin to reject further austerity measures being imposed by the European Union in exchange for economic aid to pull out of its current debt crisis, the world is waiting to see what happens next.

The vote places Greece and the European Union itself in uncharted waters. It’s an unprecedented situation. Meanwhile, travel to Greece does not yet seem to be hampered by the situation. In fact, the earth-shattering election results may well be having the opposite effect.

Travelers seem to be heading to Greece in hopes of finding the best prices that have been seen in a long time.

Tour operators and travel companies are telling travelers to bring plenty of cash and be ready for the likelihood that the ATMs will not be giving out money.

Whatever kind of agreements the masters of macroeconomics may hammer out at the negotiating table, it does not seem to be inhibiting travelers who wish to visit the birthplace of Western Civilization.

In fact Skyscanner, a flight search engine, is reporting that inquiries for flights to Greece are actually up during the week of June 29 through July 4, the week that Greece’s banks were closed.

Searches were up 16 percent from the previous week and 12 percent year over year.

The U.K.’s Telegraph reported that the hotel booking engine Trivago is saying that searches for Greece in June were up 15 percent from the previous month and about even with the previous year.

Last week in the lead up to the referendum in Greece, the U.S. Tour Operators Association put out a statement affirming their confidence in Greece as a travel destination. The association said it would continue to monitor the situation, but for the moment it is business as usual for tour operators.

What next?

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman said before the vote that if the Greeks vote No, it “will lead to scary, unknown terrain. Greece might well leave the euro, which would be hugely disruptive in the short run. But it will also offer Greece itself a chance for real recovery. And it will serve as a salutary shock to the complacency of Europe’s elites."

“Or to put it a bit differently,” said Krugman, “it’s reasonable to fear the consequences of a ‘no’ vote, because nobody knows what would come next. But you should be even more afraid of the consequences of a ‘yes,’ because in that case we do know what comes next — more austerity, more disasters and eventually a crisis much worse than anything we’ve seen so far.”

Krugman recently said that the euro itself is the problem, and that Europe never had the necessary conditions for creating a common currency. By joining the eurozone, these countries all put themselves in an “economic straitjacket” and lost the flexibility to respond to their own economic problems in their own ways.

“Does this mean that creating the euro was a mistake?,” said Krugman. “Well, yes. But that’s not the same as saying that it should be eliminated now that it exists. The urgent thing now is to loosen that straitjacket. This would involve action on multiple fronts, from a unified system of bank guarantees to a willingness to offer debt relief for countries where debt is the problem.”

Greece's departing Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis's views on the euro have a similar ring to Krugman's.

“[The eurozone] resembles a fine riverboat that was launched on a still ocean in 2000. And then the first storm that hit it, in 2008, started creating serious structural problems for it. We started leaking water. And of course, the people in the third class, as in the Titanic, start feeling the drowning effects first.”

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