Turkish travel agencies anxiously await Greece’s visa regulation
MUĞLA – Demirören News Agency
As the nine-day long Eid al-Fitr holiday approaches, Turkish travel agencies have been anxiously waiting for Greece to start the visa facilitation program for thousands of Turkish tourists making reservations in Aegean islands.
“The Greek islands are full with pre-reservations of Turkish customers. The government of Greece should immediately announce the exact schedule of the visa-at-the-border-gate enforcement,” Sinem Dursun, the owner of a travel agency in Turkey’s resort town of Marmaris, said on May 20.
“If the schedule for the border gate visa program is announced after the long holiday, many Turks, particularly the travel agencies, will feel aggrieved,” she added.
Both the customers and the economy of Greece will be badly affected by the delayed announcement, she said.
The Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, will commence on June 4. However, the holiday was extended to nine days as the Turkish government granted leave to all public workers between June 3 and June 7. Public offices, schools and banks across Turkey will re-open on June 10.
In recent years, Turkish tourists flocked to the Greek islands including Rhodes, Crete, Symi, Santorini, Mykonos, Kos, Chios and Thasos during the summers.
A visa facilitation program that allows Turkish travelers and citizens of third countries to visit select Greek islands in the eastern Aegean was extended for one year in April 2018. In accordance with an agreement between Greece and the European Union, it is expected to be further extended. The program allows travelers to stay up to seven days on the Greek islands with a visa given at the entry point.
Because of the high demand, extra ferry trips from Turkish ports to the Greek islands were planned, according to Dursun’s remarks.
“The main reason behind the prospective density on the Greek islands is the high demand from Turks living abroad. They prefer visiting the Greek islands after short stays in the Turkish resort towns of Marmaris, Bodrum and Fethiye,” she said.