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Athens 'like winter', say local traders

Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 02:06

Capital controls brought in after Greece failed to meet its international debt repayment are beginning to take their toll on visitor numbers, according to shop owners in Athens. Hayley Platt reports.

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Monastiraki Square in Athens, a well known shopping destination for tourists. But following the days leading up to Greece's debt default business owners in Athens are noticing a change. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) SHOP OWNER, STEFANIA, SAYING: "Unfortunately in the past couple of days the number of tourists has fallen. It is like January. There are no people out on the streets. It's like winter. And what we hear from our neighbours and hotel owners is that reservations are being cancelled for the next few weeks. It seems like this season has been poor." On Tuesday, Greece missed the deadline to repay its debt to the International Monetary Fund. Capital controls have since been introduced, limiting cash withdrawals from banks to 60 euros a day. That says restaurant owner Spiros Bairaktaris is keeping customers at bay. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) RESTAURANT OWNER, SPIROS BAIRAKTARIS, SAYING: "Just as the season started, the banks closed and then because of what's being talked about, the number of tourists has decreased. Customers are hesitant. Everybody seems to be waiting for something." Some tourists from further afield know all about capital controls. Argentina was forced to adopt them first in 2002 and then again a decade later. These Argentinians visiting Athens are conditioned to keeping dollars rather than their own currency. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) TOURIST FROM ARGENTINA, ENITA, SAYING: "We are used to this in Argentina, we have gone through the horrifying moment, my impression is that people here are not that scared compared to how we felt." (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) TOURIST FROM ARGENTINA, CARLOS, SAYING: "We have had three years without banks. You couldn't take out your money, no money." Tourists are still coming to Greece. And those that are already there, say they haven't been too badly affected by the current crisis - yet. (SOUNDBITE) (French) TOURIST FROM PARIS, FRANCE, JEAN-MICHEL FROM PARIS, SAYING: "We've had no problems, we came today to visit Athens and we encountered absolutely no problems." Greece is still hoping for a compromise. On Wednesday Prime Minister Tsipras told international creditors Athens could accept their bailout offer if some conditions were changed. Germany said it couldn't negotiate while Greece was still heading for a referendum on the aid-for-reforms deal.

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Athens 'like winter', say local traders

Thursday, July 02, 2015 - 02:06