Greece’s tourism industry has been in a free fall since a string of deadly earthquakes, a financial crisis and an EU-backed bailout.
It has suffered since last November, when two deadly earthquakes hit the country’s tourist hotspots.
Many Greek tourists are leaving, with many staying behind, many in their thirties, and some for extended stays.
Here’s how to make the most of your vacation time in Greece.
Don’t leave the city, the country, or Greece altogether.
If you’re going to Greece, it’s best to take your holiday with family or friends, not with strangers.
“The whole country is very much under your control,” says Yannis Koutras, a Greek-American entrepreneur and the founder of the Travel & Leisure Center in New York.
“You don’t want to be in any sort of trouble with anyone, particularly with the authorities.”
Koutris says he’s never had any problems in Greece, despite being a tourist for almost 20 years.
If the city feels unsafe, stay at a hotel or stay in the countryside.
But if you’re in the city or a city-centre destination like the ancient city of Thessaloniki, stay far away from the crowds.
“It is very hard to leave,” says Koutis.
Koutos says you’ll need to get used to the city’s crowds, which will make it more difficult to leave in a hurry.
“There will be a lot of people waiting for you and you have to get acclimatized to that,” says Mina, who lives in Athens with her husband, a computer programmer.
“If you’re a new person, it will be difficult to understand.”
Koutsos says he has never experienced anything like the recent wave of tourists, which he says has been an unexpected shock to the Greek economy.
“When I was here 20 years ago, I would have expected this kind of response,” says the 36-year-old software consultant.
“We’re used to people visiting Greece in order to have fun.
And it’s hard to say that people are coming here for the holidays.
But it’s not a holiday, and it’s very different from any other country.”
If there’s an emergency, take a taxi.
A taxi is not recommended for those without proper insurance, Koutas says.
“Don’t take a cab with no insurance because you will be breaking the law,” he says.
Take your luggage into the city.
“I have never seen this happening in any other European country,” says Giorgos Vlachos, a 37-year old journalist who lives with his family in Athens.
He says that when he travels with his wife and daughter, they usually pack their luggage in a plastic bag.
“For me, this is the way of life,” he tells NBC News.
Vlaches also says that it’s common for Greeks to pack their bags in plastic, which means they’re taking advantage of a loophole in the countrys anti-tourism law.
“Some people just want to go shopping or eat in the park, but if they go to the airport and they need to pick up their luggage, it is a no-no,” says Vlches.
“They can’t leave their bags inside.”
“It’s not the tourists that are the problem,” says Paulos Papadimoulis, who heads the European Union’s delegation to Greece.
“What’s causing it is the fact that the Greeks are not taking their responsibility,” he told NBC News, citing a lack of financial support from the EU and the Greek government.
Papadimsoulis says the Greek tourism industry is already at a disadvantage.
“This is not an accident,” he said.
“People are tired of being ignored, they are not getting their money back, and they are getting stressed.”
He says the government should consider cutting the amount of tax revenue that goes to the tourism industry and instead invest it in building public transport, building infrastructure for tourists, and promoting tourism to other European countries.
“These are all good things,” says Papadimus, but “it’s very hard because the government is not giving the money it should.”
Don’s advice: Don’t spend too much time in the capital city.
If it’s possible to travel from one part of the country to another, consider leaving your holiday in Athens or other tourist hotspot.
The Greeks don’t like to be stuck in one place for too long.
If in doubt, Koutsas recommends staying in a hotel in the nearby town of Pylos.
“One of the problems that’s going on right now is that tourists are moving to Greece because they don’t have a place to stay,” he explains.
Koutsias says you should leave your holiday early, and plan to return to the same destination within two months, although he doesn’t know how long.
“Be careful when you are on holiday,” he advises