Greek Crisis Fallout: Time Is Running Out for an Island Community That Runs on Cash
Forgotten by “banks, the government” and whole “swaths of the modern world,” Agios Efstratios in the Aegean Sea is so remote that the mobile phone network can’t process data and ATMs are nowhere to be found, The Guardian reports.
Before Greece was plunged into financial chaos, residents of this tranquil outpost in the northern Aegean managed fine in a virtual time-warp. They did their banking at the post office and the few dozen rooms to rent were booked out every summer with people who had heard – by word of mouth – of its spectacular empty beaches, clear seas and fresh seafood the old-fashioned way.
But because the island still runs on cash, the shuttering of banks nationwide has been utterly devastating. Residents have been forced to make nine-hour round trips to the nearest big island to get cash and Greek visitors say they can’t get together enough money to come.
“Tourist numbers are down 80% this year,” said mayor Maria Kakali, in an office at the heart of the village where she grew up, home to around 200 people. “Even people born here and living in Athens, who have their own places on the island, aren’t coming.” …
Tourist favourites such as Mykonos fear that losing the tax breaks will make it hard for them to compete with Turkey, but for Agios Efstratios it poses a far more existential threat.
“If we have to pay a tax of 23%, I’m sorry to say it, but we will all die on the island,” Kakali says in her office off the quiet main square of the island’s only settlement. The daughter of a fisherman and mother of two young children, she knows the strains across generations.
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— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.Wait, before you go…
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