Greece is a very safe government and Canberra’s latest travel advice for those travelling to Athens is not reflective of that, according to the CEO for Greeks Abroad, Mihalis Kokkinos, who is currently touring Australia.
According to travel advice on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, petty crime is a serious issue in Greece and is on the increase in tourist areas.
Mr Kokkinos says every tourist that has visited Greece knows it’s a safe country and that they do not feel threatened or intimated.
The travel advice tells Australians to exercise particular caution around tourist attractions in central Athens and the islands and to be “extremely cautious on bus and train as pickpocketing, bag snatching and even the slashing of luggage resulting in theft of personal belongings are regular occurrences”.
It also says that Australians should be vigilant when walking alone in isolated areas after dark, especially in the Athens suburb of Omonia and the two railway/bus stations of Larrissa and Peloponissos.
According to the travel advice tourists have been the victims of serious physical and sexual assaults in Greece, including in Athens and on Greek islands.
It advises Australians to be aware that racially-motivated and homophobic attacks have also been reported in Greece.
Mr Kokkinos says that Australia has every right to advise its citizens but pointed out that Greece is a very safe country and attracts many millions of tourists every year.
The travel advice reminds Australians that capital controls exist in Greece and that they should have sufficient cash in various denominations to cover emergencies and unexpected delays.
It also warns them that protests and demonstrations can occur in cities across Greece with little warning and Australians are advised to avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent.