Turkish, Greek ministries form team to boost tourism

Turkish, Greek ministries form team to boost tourism

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish, Greek ministries form team to boost tourism

Greek Minister Kefalogianni says they work to ease visa measures for Turks.

The Turkish and Greek tourism ministries are forming a special bureaucratic team to boost tourism efforts between the two countries.

A “hotline” is due to be set up between the two ministries and tourism packages will be prepared, Greek officials told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. The team will begin work soon and concrete steps will be taken in a month, when the Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay is set to visit Athens.

Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni, who met Günay late Sept. 26 in Istanbul, said they were planning to further discuss expanding visa-free travel for a limited number of days, but that negotiations with the European Union on the issue were still ongoing.

Greece has so far lifted visas for Turkish citizens for a period up to two weeks, on only five eastern Aegean islands: Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Rhodes and Kos. However, Kefalogianni said her ministry was working hard to facilitate further visa measures for Turkish citizens.

“It was a unique program provided only by Greece. We had to negotiate with the European Union in order to expand the program, and we are now in the evaluation process. It has been quite successful so far, so we are going to further deliberate with the EU as to whether we can expand it or not. From the Greek side there is an interest in expanding,” she told the Daily News in the Sismanoglio Megaro of the Consulate General of Greece in Istanbul.

“You always have to bear in mind the legal frame of Schengen Treaty,” said Kefalogianni, stressing that the process was not easy.

“When it comes to Greece, the truth is that we are really facilitating this visa program. I have to say again that we are the only one providing this special program for Turkey,” she said.