Greece ‘longing for Turkish tourists who spend more than Europeans’

Greece ‘longing for Turkish tourists who spend more than Europeans’

Yorgo Kirbaki-ATHENS
Greece ‘longing for Turkish tourists who spend more than Europeans’

Greece is longing for Turkish tourists, who spend more than European tourists, as the country reopened its doors to the nationals of 14 countries, excluding Turkey, amid its normalization phase.

“The travel ban should end immediately, and Turks should come. A Turkish tourist is worth seven European tourists,” Greek tourism professionals said.

The islands especially have been in dire situations, as all marinas, tavernas, beaches and shops are empty, they added.

Greek tourism professionals expect a travel ban on Turkish tourists could end on July 15, eagerly awaiting a decision that will permit Turkish tourists to enter the neighboring country.

“Their absence has brought us to our knees,” the islanders said.

“We missed the Turks. From tavernas to bakeries, I have 11 shops in Symi, all of them are closed,” Manos Mangos, the owner of a well-known taverna on Symi, said angrily.

Lefteris Papakalodukas, the mayor of the island, is also unhappy. “Last year 7,000 Turkish boats were harbored, and 70,000 Turks came to the island. The ban should end, not only for the economy but for bilateral relations, too,” said the mayor.

Last year 33 million tourists traveled to Greece, leaving 19 billion euros in the Greek economy. Almost 2 million of them were Turks, leaving 330 million euros, according to tourism data.

But Turks spend the most, with 82 euros daily per person.

Some 4 or 5 million tourists will come this year, figures lower than usual due to the pandemic, estimates have shown. Tourism contributes 20 percent to the whole economy, which means a huge loss of billions of euros.

Sakis Petru, the owner of Kronos Yatch Agency, in the island of Rhodes compared Turkish and German tourists.

“Turks spend thrice more than Germans. At fish restaurants, Turks eat calamari and octopus, Germans only eat salads.”

On the island of Patmos there is a marina for 100 yachts. “Yesterday there was only one yacht of a local moored,” said tourism expert Yanis Kamaretos.

“No Turk, no open restaurant,” he added.