Greece is world-renowned for its idyllic beaches and laid-back lifestyle. Before the outbreak of the global pandemic, the World Travel and Tourism Council said that tourism generated more than a fifth of Greece’s GDP.
This year, the country faced a record number of travelers during the summer tourism season. In the month of August alone, the country received nearly one million travelers per week, according to Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias.
A report from ForwardKeys on this year’s summer tourism revealed that among the ten best “sun and beach” locations in Europe, Greece ranked six. These destinations included the island of Mykonos, Thera (Santorini) and Heraklion (Crete), as well as Thessaloniki. Athens, the country’s capital, ranked third in terms of “urban” destinations in Europe.
Among the 27 member states of the European Union, Greece ranks sixth in terms of crypto ATMs, with 64 countries active in use. More than half of crypto ATMs in Greece are shared between Athens and Thessaloniki.
However, Bitcoin ATM operator BCash has strategically placed some of its ATMs in trendy destinations on Mykonos, Santorini and Crete. Cointelegraph spoke with BCash Managing Director and Co-Founder Dimitrios Tsangalidis about how cryptocurrency, or its impact, is affecting the tourism season in Greece.
Although Mykonos and Santorini are the most visited tourist destinations, ATMs on the mainland have the majority of traffic, according to Tsangalidis — especially central Athens, where the first ATM was installed, and Thessaloniki.
However, the co-founder noted that Crete, the country’s most populous island and a popular tourist destination, has a “very loyal crypto crowd.”
“There is a strong crypto community in Heraklion in Crete [which is] the location of one of our ATMs.”
In Heraklion, the capital of Crete, local startup H2B Hub has teamed up with the Greek-speaking University of Nicosia to create and support a local blockchain community.
Both Athens and Thessaloniki have active and regular encounters for the crypto and blockchain community.
While tourism supports parts of the Greek economy, according to Tsangaldis, it does not translate to the cryptocurrency scene. “Unfortunately, the exact opposite happens,” Tsangalidis says.
“In the summer months and high tourist seasons, the demand drops. But we’re in the middle of the crypto winter that came earlier this year, so it’s really hard to tell.”
Especially in terms of regular traffic, the drop can also be offset by locals leaving for vacation.
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In general, Greece needs more awareness of cryptocurrencies and their usefulness in everyday life, Tsangalidis summarizes.
“The impact on local tourism can only be seen if there is a general adoption of cryptocurrencies within the community.”
Currently, he adds, there is little infrastructure or adoption at the level of Greek companies and local governments. “If our government becomes crypto-friendly and if companies are given the green light, then adoption will follow.”
In May this year, the head of the Greek National Tourism Organization, Angela Jericho, said that the country is currently exploring how blockchain technology can bring safety and transparency to tourism.