Santorini entices, despite Greek crisis

Q: We have always planned to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in 2012 with a holiday to Santorini, Greece. We have put off making any airline or hotel reservations as we are concerned with all the negative tourism reports connected to Greece and its struggling economy. It makes us wonder if we should choose another destination to avoid disappointment.

A: Never pass up the opportunity to visit Santorini. This stunning island is considered one of the top picturesque travel destinations and the magnificent views are still being enjoyed by visitors not deterred by negative reporting. Stories of empty beaches and closed restaurants are actually proving to attract many past tourists back to Santorini. These returning visitors had been avoiding Santorini over the last decade due to the island being overrun with what some consider as just too many tourists.

Who wants a crowded beach where you are sitting shoulder to shoulder with other tourists? This summer the long dark sandy beach of Perissa provides ample space for a relaxing day in the sun. Most closed restaurants had operated in the larger hotels and catered to higher-end dining which suffered the greatest decline in tourist numbers. There are still plenty of smaller restaurants offering a great selection of local dishes with the emphasis on fish, lamb and cheese.

Naysayers used to complain that the workforce in tourist destinations couldn’t speak English. Now it seems some of these visitors would rather test their foreign language skills when ordering a meal and are complaining about the workforce not speaking Greek. Unless you speak Greek, does it really matter that your waiter or hotel clerk doesn’t? The Vancouver Sun

Like many European destinations, many smaller businesses on Santorini The Vancouver Sun and Province brands The Vancouver Sun and Prov following guidelines to ensure it always ap don’t accept credit cards so you need versions, please email [email protected] to consider taking euros along with The Vancouver Sun and Province brands are highly visible asse following guidelines to ensure it always appears consistent and your debit and credit cards. There is versions, please email [email protected] the worry if Greece suddenly pulls out of the European Monetary System it could effect the value of this currency Bar Height Bar Height within Greece. Banks are suggesting tourists carry their euros in small denominations as it is thought only the higher notes (over 50) will be effected by the discounting of currencies.

While the many cruise ships visiting Santorini are often considered an annoyance to regular land tourists, they are adding stability to the Greek Islands during this time of economic unrest. Emphasis is put on keeping this lucrative market for local merchants satisfied with attention towards making all visitors feel welcome and appreciated. The legendary hospitality of Greeks goes beyond the shopkeepers and hoteliers and can be experienced be visitors sharing time with local residents.


ECB Adds To Pressure On Greece

FRANKFURT—The European Central Bank said it would reject Greek government bonds as collateral for its normal lending operations beginning Wednesday, raising pressure on Athens to comply with demands of its international creditors for deep budget cuts.

Government bonds and other debt securities backed by Greece “will become for the time being ineligible for use as collateral” in the ECB’s monetary policy operations, the bank said in a statement.

Greek banks, which are largely shut out of private markets for financing, depend critically on cheap ECB loans to meet their daily funding needs. In June, Greek banks tapped the ECB and …


UK set for busy weekend of travel

While Britain welcomes Olympics arrivals, around two million people will be heading abroad at the start of the school holidays this weekend.

And there was a promise of better weather for those taking breaks in the UK, with conditions expected to be warmer, drier and sunnier. The AA warned that major road routes were likely to be busy.

Travel organisation Abta said that for those travelling overseas, Spain and its islands were the number one destination followed by Turkey and Greece.

Those choosing a foreign trip are being boosted by a marked improvement in the number of euros they will get to the pound. Abta added that prices in restaurants and bars in Europe were falling.

Over this weekend, around 482,000 passengers will leave from Heathrow, 275,000 from Gatwick, 132,500 from Stansted and 70,000 from Luton.

More than 100,000 will fly from Scottish airports, including 50,000 from Glasgow. It is expected that 297,000 will leave from Manchester, 64,000 from Birmingham and 45,000 from Bristol.

About 50,000 will depart on Channel Tunnel high-speed Eurostar trains, while regional airports, ferry terminals and Eurotunnel’s Channel Tunnel services will all be extremely busy.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “This weekend marks the start of the summer holiday getaway and is expected to be one of the busiest of the year at UK airports, with thousands also arriving for the Olympics.”

Those staying at home who have had to endure one of the UK’s coldest, wettest and dullest summers ever, can at least look forward to something better.

Forecasters predicted that although it could be wet on Friday and showery on Saturday, at least in southern England, will improve considerably on Sunday and Monday, with temperatures as high as 27C (81F).


With global instability, who wants to be a tourist?


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A terror attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria on Wednesday called attention to the country's tourism industry. A terror attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria on Wednesday called attention to the country’s tourism industry.

While Bulgaria is not a top tourist destination, the country attracted more than 8 million visitors in 2010, the last year for which U.N. World Tourism Organization figures are available. While Bulgaria is not a top tourist destination, the country attracted more than 8 million visitors in 2010, the last year for which U.N. World Tourism Organization figures are available.

Egypt's 2011 revolution has taken a heavy toll on the nation's tourism industry.Egypt’s 2011 revolution has taken a heavy toll on the nation’s tourism industry.

London faces a security challenge as athletes and spectators gather for the 2012 Olympic Games. Military personnel have been called in to cover an officer shortage after a contractor failed to provide adequate staffing.London faces a security challenge as athletes and spectators gather for the 2012 Olympic Games. Military personnel have been called in to cover an officer shortage after a contractor failed to provide adequate staffing.

Greece has been at the forefront of the eurozone's economic crisis. Protests have sometimes turned violent.Greece has been at the forefront of the eurozone’s economic crisis. Protests have sometimes turned violent.


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(CNN) — A terrorist explosion in Bulgaria. Tourist kidnappings in Egypt. Sometimes violent demonstrations in Greece. A coup in Mali. Deadly drug wars in Mexico. Olympic security failures in England.

Who wants to be a tourist these days? The deadly bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists Wednesday in Bulgaria is the latest bit of bad news in a summer plagued by global instability.

Traveling hardly sounds relaxing. The U.S. State Department’s latest worldwide safety caution issued Wednesday warns that terrorist groups “continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.”

Targets might include public transportation systems and “sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas and other tourist destinations” in the United States and abroad where large numbers of U.S. citizens gather, according to the State Department.

Despite ongoing advisories and worldwide economic uncertainty, the numbers suggest travelers are nevertheless determined to see the world. International tourist arrivals grew 5% in the first four months of 2012, according to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization. The agency estimates that 415 million tourists will travel worldwide during this year’s May-August peak travel season, and international tourism is expected to increase by 3% to 4% for the full year.

“In the case of acts of violence or any other risk/crisis situation such as natural disasters, it is important that countries are prepared and have built crisis management structures and preparedness plans to deal with such unforeseen events in order to minimize their impact on tourism,” wrote Sandra Carvao, a WTO spokeswoman, in an e-mail. “Yet in many cases, these are isolated events that if well-managed will have a limited impact on tourism demand.”

The number of U.S. travelers going abroad last year dropped 3% from 2010 to nearly 59 million, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, but 2012 is looking strong for U.S. travel abroad.

“So far, in 2012, we are seeing increases in U.S. outbound air traffic to all world regions. It is too early to tell if any of the events that have just occurred will impact travel,” a Commerce Department official said via e-mail. This year’s outbound air traffic is up 5% through April 2012, according to department figures.

While most of their travelers aren’t heading into political hot spots, U.S. travel agents say their clients understand terrorist threats and political unrest are part of what they have to consider in a post-9/11 world, along with the price of a plane ticket.

“We’ve had little to no cause for concern from our travelers, many of whom are on extensive European vacations traveling with family for up to three weeks in Europe,” wrote Pattie Fanta, owner of Travel Leaders in Bay Village, Ohio, in an e-mail. “I advise my clients to remain vigilant and alert while on the road (even in the U.S.), know they have good trip insurance and call us should any problems arise.”

Perspective is key, says veteran travel writer Zora O’Neill, who was boarding a Thursday red-eye flight to Greece.

“Sure, I’m going to Greece, and even Athens — but I know where the demonstrations usually are in Athens and the scale of them — so I know just to avoid that part of the city,” says O’Neill, author of more than a dozen travel guides, plus an upcoming book on Arabic language and the Middle East.

“The key to perspective is a map! ‘Demonstrations in Greece’ typically boils down to one major square in Athens. ‘Drug war violence in Mexico’ affects only a tiny portion of the country. And for terrorist attacks, it’s stone-cold to say it, but the safest time to go somewhere is after an attack, when the security is the most vigilant.”

CNN’s Marnie Hunter contributed to this report.






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