Beware Greek euros, travel company warns
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Tuesday 15 May 2012
Check the serial numbers on your euro notes or you could be left with "funny money", a leading British travel company warned yesterday in response to the deepening crisis involving the single currency.
DialAFlight told customers: "Although nobody is quite sure what will happen if Greece is ejected from the euro, we think it is possible that Greek euro notes would have to be used as a temporary currency."
The company urged people to check their euro currency to look for the country of origin: Greek notes begin with the letter "Y" and Spanish notes with the letter "V".
The process of any exit from the euro has been widely discussed in financial circles. Rumours abound of vaults full of "new drachmas" in Athens in preparation for such an eventuality. It is thought more likely, however, that notes held by Greek banks would be officially overstamped before being issued, making them legal tender only in Greece. The value of "Greek euros" would fall sharply against the "real" currency.
This is the process that accompanied the break-up of the Soviet Union; the transition from the rouble to individual currencies involved overprinting existing notes before new bills were printed. But DialAFlight is going beyond this scenario, by suggesting that euros currently in circulation could be suspect.
The managing director of DialAFlight, Peter Stephens, said the warning on its website did not arise from any official advice, but from speculation within the country. "We have been taking about what happens if Greek defaults," he added. "It looks increasingly obvious that Greece will have to bail out. Whether the rest of the eurozone would accept notes issued in Greece, I don't know."
Mr Stephens suggested that holidaymakers could either spend such notes locally or "take Greek euros to banks in another country and swap them there".
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