Resumption of ferry services with Greek islands to boost tourism: Official
The ban on ferry services, which were halted for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was lifted on Feb. 7. The restriction also applied to private yachts sailing between Turkey’s Aegean coasts and the Greek islands.
“Ferries used to carry nearly 1.5 million people each year on the routes, such as Ayvalık-Lesbos, Çeşme-Khios and Marmaris-Rhodes. With the resumption of those voyages, tourism activity will revive again,” said Yusuf Öztürk, from the İzmir branch of the Chamber of Shipping.
Now, ferries with up to 49 passengers on board can enter 14 Greek ports, including Kavala, Rhodes, Lesbos, Samos, Limnos, Patmos and Kastellorizo.
Ferry services greatly contribute to the local economy and tourism activity, but they came to nearly a complete halt after the pandemic, Öztürk noted.
Officials from the two countries discussed the resumption of those services at the Turkish-Greek Joint Commission meeting held in the Turkish western province of İzmir in November last year, he said.
Following another meeting in Greece between officials from the Turkish and Greek tourism and trade ministries, ferry services resumed, Öztürk added.
For the time being, ferries are allowed to carry only 49 passengers, but those vessels will gradually be able to serve more passengers, he said, noting that travelers need to provide the results of PCR tests taken within 72 hours and antibody tests.
Ferry operators suffered a great deal over the past two years, but marine tourism will see a strong rebound this year, Öztürk said, adding that the resumption of those services came at a time when cruise traffic in the Mediterranean is also gaining momentum.