iStock/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) — While the Greek elections on Sunday were an ocean away, Americans may feel the ripple effects of the anti-austerity Syriza party’s leadership when it comes to their bank accounts and homes.
By voting for the far-left Syriza leader to be their premier, Greeks essentially voted against the measures imposed by European Union leaders. Though their single euro currency, put in place in 1999, likely won’t go away, many Greeks are fed up with 26 percent unemployment and budget cuts that they face.
Kasi Turpin, founder and director of boutique travel company Greece A La Carte, based in Athens, said she is not bothered as a business owner and resident about the election results.
“I think he’s going to negotiate with Europe,” Turpin said of newly-elected premier Alexis Tsipras. “A lot of what he promised was rhetoric so he could get elected, though a lot of people are expecting him to raise minimum wage today and alleviate taxes.”
Peter Morici, professor at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, said shifting European politics may have a depressing effect on U.S. interest rates. That’s because uncertainty about the euro will cause Europeans to send money to the U.S., and that could push up stock prices and push down interest rates, he said.
“As the Federal Reserve raises rates this summer, the impact on mortgage rates will be more limited because of the uncertainty over the euro,” he said.
Many economists expect the U.S. central bank to raise interest rates, “unless the economy falls apart,” said Morici, who travels to Europe each summer. He added that he doesn’t expect many effects on tourists, except for snagging some discounts.
“Right now, because the euro is weak, it’s a good value,” he said.
Booking in advance can supersede any discounts that you may get from the plunging value of the euro against the dollar.
Turpin, who is of Greek descent and was born in Canada, said demand for Greek tourism has thawed since attracting bad press a few years ago — with images of protesters in Athens against austerity measures.
And now, hotel and tourism service inventory may be harder to get due to the pent-up demand and travelers who want to take advantage of the falling euro.
Turpin advises travelers to look beyond the popular destinations of Santorini and Mykonos, such as Crete and Pylos.
“Greece is a country that is mostly surrounded by water. Even if you’re on the mainland of Greece, you’re not even 20 minutes from the water,” she said.
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