Online travel agent DialAFlight has warned concerned holidaymakers to dump their Greek euros in case the troubled nation abandons the currency. For the first time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acknowledged that Greece may have to quit the euro, and now the travel website has warned that Greek euro notes may become worthless. However, there's not been any official acknowledgment that this will happen.
The warning from DialAFlight was made in a blog post on its website, but it has already been removed. It had advised British holidaymakers to check the origin of their euro notes and said that Greece could use them as an interim currency while it prints new ones. For an example, the website said Czechoslovakia rubber-stamped all notes overnight when it devalued its currency 20 years ago so they could be used while a new currency was being printed.
DialAFlight also questioned if other countries in Europe would still accept Greek euros if the nation isn't officially part of the currency anymore. If Greek euros aren't accepted anymore, it noted that those still in possession of them could be out of pocket. It said the notes can be easily identified by their serial number. This is because euro notes are specific to every country in which they were issued, though they can be used in any European nation that officially uses that currency. They can be identified by country-specific serial numbers, which starts with the letter 'Y' for Greece.
The ABTA, The Travel Association (formerly the Association of British Travel Agents) has dismissed this warning. A spokesperson says a euro is a euro no matter where it's printed. If Greece leaves the euro, no-one can be 100% accurate in predicting the effects this could have. However, it's safe to say there would be a transition period when consumers will still be able to pay with euros, which is common in several nations where currencies like the euro or dollar are accepted in parallel to the local currency.
The spokesperson added that it's important consumers remember that it's only speculation Greece may leave the euro and the possible impact it will have. It's still perfectly safe to visit the country. Most British holidaymakers fly directly to the Greek islands, where there hasn't been any apparent unrest. The nationals are very hospitable, and travellers will find them even more welcoming due to their desperation for people to visit. Business is clearly suffering from the economic environment and insecurity, as well as negative speculation.
The claims by DialAFlight have also been dismissed by the British Bankers' Association. The organisation says there's no difference between euros that are printed in different countries. They are worth the same across the Eurozone, no matter where they were issued. The euro is a single currency and Greek, French, Spanish and German notes are all worth the same, it added.
Directline Holidays managing director Maria Whiteman also reassured holidaymakers that none of its partners based in Greece have reported concerns. It's possible that visitors could be put off by holiday security or demonstrations, but since the islands continue to be vastly unaffected and travel hasn't slowed, they aren't expecting a decline. All schedules and programmes from their tour operators are still the same for next year, while capacity hasn't reduced, which is an early indication that the destination remains unaffected in the near term. The debt problem and derestriction of the currency may make prices more competitive, so now could be a good time to find a bargain, she added.