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Take cash on a Greek holiday

- by Dabs Banner

Holiday visitors to the Greek Islands have been advised not to rely on credit cards if they plan on flying out for a holiday over the next few months.

The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office webpage on travel to Greece warns holidaymakers to make sure they have plenty of cash for their holidays.

The warning comes as fears continue of a possible economic collapse as the Greek government struggle to pay off international loans.

The Greek Tourist Board insists there are no immediate problems with Greek banks but visitors to Greece and the Greek islands are advised not to rely solely on credit and debits cards and local ATM cash machines.

The British government is cautious over the uncertainty surrounding Greek membership of the Eurozone. If the Greece government were to default on repayments it could force an exit from the Euro and a run on Greek banks.

In order to prevent cash draining out of the economy, the Greek government would be forced to close all cash machines, leaving those holiday visitors relying on cards for their spending cash high and dry.

"The currency of Greece is the euro ... you should take more than one means of payment with you (cash, debit card, credit card). Make sure you have enough money to cover emergencies and any unexpected delays," the Foreign & Commonwealth Office site advises.

It is advice that could be suitable for overseas travel to any country but it is noticeable that similar advice is not give about other European countries such as France or Spain.

Meanwhile, experts recommended that people travelling to Greece should have enough cash with them to last three to five days, apart from their credit and debit cards.

Te Greek economy came close to bankruptcy recently when the European finance ministers ruled out another major rescue programme as in 2010 and 2012.

Since then the newly elected SYRIZA party government has been slow in implement further austerity measures that have been demanded from lenders in return for a multi-million euro bailout.

Emergency funds to cover summer salary payments to public service workers have been dependent on Greece coming up with sweeping changes to government salaries, taxes and pension payouts.

Greece is running out of options as quickly as it is running out of cash. By May 11, the government will have to find €700 million worth of new treasury bills as well as €774 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

If a deal with the creditors is not struck, Greece could abandon the euro, Greek banks would face collapse and the new drachma currency would be highly devalued as prices for goods and services rise rapidly.

Many say the best move for Greece is to continue with a tough austerity programme but the current left-wing government was elected to do just the opposite.

The creditors have urged Greece to agree to a list of budget measures before they pay the latest €7.2 billion instalment of its bailout programme and talks are taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend to unlock the cash.

It is hardly surprising that sales of holidays to the Greek Islands has stalled in April despite a surprisingly buoyant start to the year.

Greek Island holidays are still very attractive with rock-bottom prices thanks to excellent exchange rates for the British Pound against the Euro. It's possible to book a week's holiday in Greece for under £140, making it one of the cheapest holiday destinations in Europe.

But it is hardly surprising that British holidaymakers are holding back until the dust settles on the latest Greek bailout.