Greece is known worldwide for its tourist attractions, idyllic beaches and laid-back lifestyle. Prior to the onset of the global pandemic, the World Travel and Tourism Council stated that tourism generated more than one-fifth of Greece’s total GDP.
This year, the country faced a record number of travelers during the summer tourist season. Greece’s Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the country received about 1 million tourists a week in August alone.
This year’s ForwardKeys summer tourism report showed that of the top ten “sun and beach” destinations in Europe, Greece ranked six. These include the island destinations of Mykonos, Thira (Santorini) and Heraklion (Crete), as well as Thessaloniki. Athens, the country’s capital, ranked third in Europe for “urban” destinations.
Among the 27 member states of the European Union, Greece ranks sixth in terms of the number of cryptocurrency ATMs, 64 of which are actively used. More than half of Greece’s cryptocurrency ATMs are used by Athens and Thessaloniki.
However, Bitcoin ATM operator BCash has strategically placed some of its ATMs in the trendy island country destinations of Mykonos, Santorini and Crete. spoke with BCash Managing Director and Co-Founder Dimitrios Tsangalidis about how cryptocurrencies are or are affecting the tourist season in Greece.
While Mykonos and Santorini are the most visited tourist destinations, ATMs on the mainland account for most of the traffic, especially in the center of Athens, where the first ATM was installed, and in Thessaloniki, Tsangalidis said.
However, the co-founder noted that Crete, the country’s most populous island and popular tourist destination, has a “very loyal cryptocurrency crowd.”
“There is a strong crypto community in Heraklion on Crete. [which is] the location of one of our ATMs.
In Heraklion, the capital of Crete, local startup accelerator H2B Hub partnered with the Greek-speaking University of Nicosia to build and support the local blockchain community.
Both Athens and Thessaloniki host active regular meetings of the crypto and blockchain communities.
Although tourism supports part of the Greek economy, according to Tsangalidis, it does not carry over to the crypto scene. “Unfortunately, the exact opposite is happening,” says Tsangalidis.
“In the summer months and during the high tourist season, demand drops. But we’re in the middle of the crypto winter that hit earlier this year, so it’s really hard to say.”
Especially in terms of regular traffic, the decline can also be equated with the departure of local residents on vacation.
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In general, Greece needs more awareness about cryptocurrencies and their usefulness in everyday life, Tsangalidis concludes.
“The impact on local tourism can only be noticeable if there is general acceptance of cryptocurrencies in society.”
He adds that at the moment there is little to no infrastructure or adaptation at the level of Greek businesses and local governments. “If our government becomes crypto friendly and if businesses are given the green light, acceptance will follow.”
In May this year, the president of the Hellenic National Tourism Organization, Angela Gierekou, said that the country was currently exploring how blockchain technology could bring security and transparency to tourism.