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Greek holidays escape VAT rise

- by Dabs Banner

Holidaymakers travelling to the Greek Islands are unlikely to be affected by the recent hike in VAT rates, according to travel experts.

The Greek parliament recently voted through measures to increase VAT rates on goods and services and to axe the special tax discounts enjoyed by many Greek Island.

But the Association of British Travel Agents ABTA says UK visitors planning to head out off to Greece this summer are unlikely to be affected by any price rises.

According to an ABTA spokesman: "The intention is that many of these increases will come into effect from 1 October 2015 so they would not affect the majority of holidays for this summer".

But ABTA is still advising visitors to take plenty of cash on their holidays in Greece as they have received mixed reports on the availability of cash in ATMs.

Although there are no limits on the amounts of cash tourists can withdraw from cash machines there is no guarantee that they will always be working.

Cash withdrawal limits for Greeks have resulted in long queues at some machines and reports of them running out of cash, particularly at weekends.

But if holidaymakers fail to spend all their euros they need not worry about taking euros out of Greece. There are no restrictions on taking unspent euros out of Greece at the end of your stay, according to ABTA.

Credit and debit cards are still being accepted in shops and restaurants in Greece and reports of pharmacies running out of medical supplies have been exaggerated according to the Greek tourism agency SETE.

While most pharmacies in Greece appear to be operating normally, the Foreign Office website is still advising travellers to take sufficient medical supplies with them as a precautionary measure.

ABTA insists that reports from holidaymakers on the ground "suggest that it remains business as usual in the Greek resorts with bars, shops and restaurants adequately supplied and open as usual".

Indeed, all the publicity on the Greek euro crisis appears to have boosted holiday bookings overall this year. The Global Travel Group, with 400 agents across the UK, reports bookings to Greece up 40% on last year, with no signs of a slowdown.

According to the Group, the most popular Greek Island destinations are Rhodes, Crete and Corfu and enquiries have also grown.

"It's encouraging to hear that the on-going economic turmoil in Greece is not deterring British holidaymakers from booking trips to the country," a Global Travel Group spokesman said.

Holidaymakers planning to use Greek ferries to get about however will find tickets more expensive. The VAT rate on Greek ferry tickets rose 10% to 23% overnight.

Ferry companies are forecasting a drop in passenger numbers of up 30% as a direct result of the ticket price hike. More than 3.4 million tourists used Greek ferries during their holidays last year.