Greece is world-famous for its tourist attractions, idyllic beaches, and relaxed lifestyle. Before the outbreak of the global pandemic, the World Travel and Tourism Council said that tourism generates more than a fifth of Greece’s GDP.
This year, during the summer tourist season, the country met a record number of travelers. Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the country received nearly one million tourists a week in August alone.
This year’s ForwardKeys report on summer tourism showed that Greece ranked sixth among the ten best “sun and beach” destinations in Europe. These destinations include the island of Mykonos, Thera (Santorini) and Heraklion (Crete), as well as Thessaloniki. Athens, the country’s capital, ranked third in Europe in terms of “urban” destinations.
Among the 27 member states of the European Union, Greece ranks sixth in terms of the number of crypto ATMs, with 64 active in use. More than half of cryptocurrency ATMs in Greece are distributed between Athens and Thessaloniki.
However, Bitcoin ATM operator BCash has strategically placed some of its ATMs in trendy island destinations in the country such as Mykonos, Santorini and Crete. Cointelegraph spoke with BCash CEO and Co-founder Dimitrios Tsangalidis about how cryptocurrency has affected, or even affected, the tourist season in Greece.
While Mykonos and Santorini are the most visited tourist destinations, according to Tsangalidis, ATMs on the mainland account for most of the traffic, especially in central Athens, where the first ATM was installed, and in Thessaloniki.
However, the co-founder noted that Crete, the country’s most populous island and popular tourist destination, has a “very loyal crypto audience.”
“There is a strong crypto community in Heraklion, Crete, [where] one of our ATMs is located.”
In Heraklion, the capital of Crete, the local startup accelerator H2B Hub has 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 cryptocurrency and blockchain community.
Although tourism supports a part of the Greek economy, according to Tsangalidis, it is not moving into the cryptocurrency scene. “Unfortunately, the exact opposite happens,” says Tsangalidis.
“During the summer months and peak tourist seasons, the demand drops. But we’re in the middle of the crypto winter that hit earlier this year, so it’s really hard to tell.”
Especially when it comes to regular traffic, the drop can also be equated with locals on holiday.
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In general, Greece needs more awareness about cryptocurrencies and their usefulness in everyday life, concludes Tsangalidis.
“The impact on local tourism can only be seen if there is a widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies in the community.”
He adds that there is currently little infrastructure, adaptation or adaptation at the level of Greek companies and local authorities. “If our government becomes crypto-friendly and if companies are given the green light, then adoption will follow.”