How Bitcoin ATMs in Greece Are Doing During a Record-Breaking Tourist Season

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Greece is known worldwide for its tourist temptations of idyllic beaches and laid-back lifestyle. Prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic, the World Travel and Tourism Council said tourism contributed more than a fifth of Greece’s total GDP.

This year, the country experienced a record number of travelers during the summer season. In the month of August alone, the country received nearly 1 million travelers a week, according to Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias.

A report by ForwardKeys on this year’s summer tourism revealed that of the top ten ‘sun and beach’ locations in Europe, Greece ranked six. These include the island destinations of Mykonos, Thira (Santorini) and Heraklion (Crete), as well as Thessaloniki. Athens, the country’s capital, took third place for ‘urban’ destinations in Europe.

Among the 27 member states of the European Union, Greece ranks sixth in cryptocurrency ATMs, with 64 active in use. More than half of the crypto ATMs in Greece are shared between Athens and Thessaloniki.

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However, Bitcoin ATM operator BCash has strategically placed some of its ATMs in the country’s trendy island destinations of Mykonos, Santorini and Crete. TAUT spoke with BCash director and co-founder, Dimitrios Tsangalidis, about how crypto is affected by or itself impacting Greece’s tourist season.

Although Mykonos and Santorini are the most visited tourist destinations, the ATMs on the mainland have the most traffic, according to Tsangalidis, especially the center of Athens, where the first ATM was installed, and Thessaloniki.

However, the co-founder noted that Crete, the country’s most populous island and a popular tourist destination, has a “very loyal cryptocurrency crowd.”

“There is a strong crypto community in Heraklion in Crete [which is] the location of one of our ATMs.”

In Heraklion, the capital of Crete, local start-up accelerator H2B Hub has partnered with the Greek-speaking University of Nicosia to create and support a local blockchain community.

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Both Athens and Thessaloniki have active, regular meetings for the crypto and blockchain community.

While tourism supports parts of the Greek economy, it does not translate to the crypto scene, according to Tsangalidis. “Unfortunately, the absolute opposite is happening,” Tsangalidis says.

“Demand drops in the summer months and the high season. But we’re in the midst of the crypto winter that came earlier this year, so it’s really hard to say.”

Especially in terms of regular traffic, the decrease can also be equated with the departure of the local population on holiday.

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In general, Greece needs more awareness of cryptocurrencies and their usefulness in everyday life, Tsangalidis lists.

“Influence on local tourism can only be felt if there is a general acceptance of cryptocurrency in society.”

He adds that there is currently little to no infrastructure or adoption at the level of Greek companies and local governments. “If our government becomes crypto-friendly and if companies are given the green light, then adoption will follow.”

In May this year, Angela Gerekou, the president of the Greek National Tourism Organization, said the country is currently exploring how blockchain technology can bring security and transparency to tourism.