Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis, Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura and Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos on Monday noted the need for the European Union to extend the current non-Schengen visa regime for cruises in 2018 and the years that follow, during a meeting at the foreign ministry.
Indicative of the importance Greece attaches to an extension of this visa regime is that over 250,000 tourists used the one-day visa in 2017 and the revenues for local communities reached 25 million euros.
“This meeting is taking place in good time, sufficiently early that we can promptly prepare to ask the EU to extend the visa into 2018, so that visitors from Turkey and from other countries that are on vacation in Turkey are able to visit Greece” stated Kouroumblis.
Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos said that the cruise and tourist flows from Turkey contribute to the economic development of the islands and of the Greek economy in general. “We must be ready to receive very important flows from Turkey and from other non-Schengen zone countries before the next tourist season opens,” he said.
Kountoura put priority on the target of making Greece an internationally attractive tourist destination throughout the year, noting that the cruise sector will play an important role towards this direction. She also referred to her talks with her Turkish counterparts on the visa issue and ways to promote the tourist flows from one country to the other. In this context, Kountoura called 2017 an excellent year as the number of tourists from Turkey doubled.
According to Athens-Macedonian News Agency sources, the Turkish side has pledged to reduce the duties charged at Izmir port to facilitate the sea link between Thessaloniki and Izmir.