Greek island Kos' town centre

Surge in Turkish Tourists to Greek Islands Following Visa on Arrival

Following the successful implementation of visa on arrival services for Turkish tourists to ten Greek islands, other islands are now pressing the Greek government for the same privilege.

This comes after a dramatic threefold increase in tourist arrivals to these islands in the first ten days of this month compared to the same period last year.

The visa on arrival system, initially implemented for five islands, led to a significant influx of visitors from Turkiye (Turkey). According to official data shared by Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the number of tourists visiting Lesbos soared from 390 to 3,800 in just the first ten days of April.

Other islands saw similar increases; Chios welcomed nearly double the number of visitors, from 2,716 to 4,993. Samos, Kos, and Rhodes also reported significant jumps in tourist numbers, contributing to a total of 20,690 visitors across these five islands—a stark rise from last year’s 5,969.

With the new visa system proving successful, it was extended to include Patmos, Symi, Kastellorizo, Leros, and Kalymnos starting April 30. This expansion allows even more Turkish tourists to visit these destinations with ease.

Local economies have experienced a boost from the increased visitor traffic, with shops and services thriving under the new influx.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis remarked on the program’s success, noting its positive impact on local commerce and the broader economy.

Regional Governor Kostas Moutzouris expressed satisfaction with the program, noting that each Turkish visitor contributes approximately twice as much to the local economy as visitors arriving by charter flights.

The pressure is now on to expand the visa privileges to other islands, with Patmos, Thassos, and Samothrace eager to join the scheme.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Mitsotakis had previously discussed this initiative, which later received approval from the European Commission.

Tourism is crucial for Greece, with last year’s figures showing 32.7 million international visitors generating €20.5 billion in revenue.

To obtain a visa on arrival, travelers must pay a fee of €60 and provide a valid passport, two biometric photos, a three-month bank statement showing sufficient funds, hotel reservations, a ferry ticket, travel health insurance, a photocopy of their ID, and an application form, ensuring no entry stamps from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus are present in the passport.

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