How Bitcoin ATMs in Greece fare during a record-breaking tourist season


Greece is globally recognized for its tourist attractions of idyllic beaches and laid-back lifestyle. Before the outbreak of the global pandemic, the World Travel and Tourism Council said that tourism generated more than a fifth of Greece’s total GDP.

This year, the country faced a record number of travelers during its summer tourist season. In the month of August alone, the country received almost 1 million tourist arrivals per week, according to Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias.

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

In the 27 member states of the European Union, Greece takes the sixth place in terms of cryptocurrency ATMs, with 64 active for use. More than half of Greece’s crypto ATMs are split between Athens and Thessaloniki.

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

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

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

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

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

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

While tourism boosts parts of the Greek economy, according to Tsangalidis, it doesn’t translate to the crypto scene. “Unfortunately, the absolute opposite is happening,” says Tsangalidis.

“In summer months and high tourist seasons, the demand decreases. But we’re in the middle of a crypto winter that came earlier this year, so it’s really hard to say.”

Especially in terms of regular traffic, the decline can also be equated with locals leaving for vacation.

Related: Tourists flock to El Salvador despite Bitcoin bear market

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

“An impact on local tourism can only be seen if there is a general adoption of cryptocurrency within society.”

He adds that currently, there is little infrastructure or adoption at the level of Greek businesses and local governments. “If our government becomes crypto-friendly and if green light is given to businesses, then the adoption will follow.”

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