It probably won't come as a shock to you that there are some fairly significant dilemmas going on in the world at the moment. Wars are raging and economies are crumbling. As responsible global citizens, it's always good practice to have a bit of an idea what is going on in the world. Certainly it's good to expand your general knowledge of cultures and histories - it's never great to rock up in a country as a foreign visitor and have absolutely no idea about the cultural practices of a nation. This kind of behaviour is bound to end in embarrassment for everyone involved. It's obviously desirable to have a bit of an understanding of news and current affairs because this can (and should) have a significant impact on your travel plans. No matter how up for an adventure you are, it's probably not advisable to arrive in the middle of a war zone armed with your travel guide and bikini, searching for a good time. Again, embarrassing (and could end result in untimely death).
However, tourism can play a vital role in boosting ailing economies. Let's take Greece for example. If you've seen any news out of Europe recently, you would know that our Greek friends are in a bit of a pickle to put it lightly. While it's impossible to summarise the complicated crisis in a short blog, the simple facts highlight the calamity the country is facing:
- Greece's creditors have bailed it out twice in the last five years with loans of over $250 billion
- About a quarter of the workforce is unemployed
- In return for an extended bailout, Greece's creditors (namely France and Germany) have demanded tax hikes and cuts to pensions and public spending
- While Greece teeters on the brink of financial bankruptcy, the creditors are demanding tax hikes and cuts to pensions and public spending, in return for a new bailout of $60 billion.
It's not pretty! And there is still a very real chance that Greece could be kicked out of the Eurozone. But regardless of the outcome,we can show our solidarity for the people of Greece by visiting their beautiful country.
We know that tourism has huge economical benefits for a nation. Even though Greece is facing massive economic strife, it is still considered a safe country to visit and especially as the European summer approaches, now is the perfect time to help out our Greek friends. It might seem a little selfish to consider lying on a Greek beach sipping a cocktail while you wait for your lamb souvlaki as actually "helping". But the gains of tourism are proven.
Alex Andreou writes for The Guardian, that there has never been a better time to visit Greece. The prices are cheap, the people are welcoming and grateful, you get an amazing holiday and Greece receives a much-needed injection of cash. Who can argue with that logic?
Andreou offers some excellent tips for visiting Greece and travelling wisely so you can maximise the positive impact on the local economy:
- take Euro cash with you so you are injecting money directly into the local economy
- book flights (ideally with a Greek airline) There are lots of flights on sale to Greece to take advantage of the deals!
- book your accommodation separately and directly with the owners or hotels and pay cash when you arrive
- spread the solidarity around - visit some of the smaller islands if you have the chance
- spend your money with small local businesses wherever you can
I don't know about you but I don't need much more encouragement to visit Greece. Is it taking it a bit far to consider this my social obligation???