Greece is internationally known for its tourist-friendly beaches and laid-back lifestyle. Before the global pandemic, the World Travel and Tourism Council said tourism generated a fifth of Greece’s gross domestic product.
This year, the country faced a huge number of travelers during the summer tourism season. Greece’s tourism minister, Vassilis Kikilias, said that in August alone, the country received nearly 1 million tourist arrivals per week.
A report from Forward Keys on this year’s summer tourism shows that Greece occupies six of the top ten “sun and beaches” spots in Europe. These include Mykonos, Thira (Santorini) and Heraklion (Crete) as well as the island destinations of Thessaloniki. Athens, the country’s capital, was ranked third in European “city” destinations.
Of the 27 EU member states, Greece ranks sixth in the number of cryptocurrency ATMs, with 64 of them active. More than half of Greek crypto ATMs are shared between Athens and Thessaloniki.
However, Bitcoin ATM operator BCash has placed some of its ATMs in the country’s trendy destinations of Mykonos, Santorini and the island of Crete. Cointelegraph spoke with Dimitrios Tangalidis, Managing Director and Co-Founder of BCash, to discuss how crypto will impact the Greek tourism season, or itself.
Although Mykonos and Santorini are the most visited tourist destinations, the main ATMs have the most traffic, such as Tsangalidis – especially central Athens and Thessaloniki, where the first ATM was installed.
However, the co-founder stated that in Crete, the country’s most populated island and a popular tourist destination, there is a “very loyal cryptocurrency population”.
“There is a strong crypto community in Heraklion, Crete. [which is] Location of one ATM”.
In Heraklion, the capital of Crete, local startup accelerator H2B Hub has partnered with the Greek-speaking University of Nicosia to create and support a local blockchain community.
Both Athens and Thessaloniki have an active regular meeting for the crypto and blockchain community.
While tourism bolsters parts of the Greek economy, according to Tsangalidis, it doesn’t translate to the crypto scene. “Unfortunately, the exact opposite happens,” Tangalidis says.
“During the summer months and peak tourist seasons, demand slows down. But we’re in the middle of the crypto winter that came earlier this year, so it’s hard to say.”
Especially given the normal traffic flow, the reduction can be matched by the locals going on vacation.
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In general, Greece needs more awareness about cryptocurrencies and their utility in everyday life, Tsangalidis concluded.
“The impact on local tourism can only be realized if there is a general acceptance of cryptocurrency in society.”
He added that currently there is no infrastructure or adoption from the level of Greek businesses and local governments. “If our government becomes crypto-friendly and greenlights it for business, adoption will follow.”
In May this year, the president of Greece’s National Tourism Organization, Angela Gerekou, said the country is currently exploring how blockchain technology can bring security and transparency to tourism.