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No-Visa Regime Pilot Program For Turks Kicks Off

The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) hailed the visa facilitation pilot program launched last month that allows Turkish nationals to visit five Greek Eastern Aegean islands without a relevant visa issued at Greek consulates.

HATTA said the development was expected to increase summer visitors and pledged to continue efforts to simplify visa procedures on a national and European level.

According to the program, Turkish tourists that wish to visit the islands of Rodos, Kos, Samos, Chios and Mytilini for less than 15 days can now issue visas at the ports of the islands.

The visa issuance at ports, instead of Greek consulates in Turkey, came after constant requests by local authorities and tourism professionals for easier facilitation of visas for Turkish visitors. The pilot program will end on 30 September 2012.

However, according to Turkish daily Today’s Zaman, passengers, tourism agencies and travelers from Turkey have indicated that formalities that have to be observed in gaining entry to the islands have not reduced.

It has been argued repeatedly by Greek tourism professionals that the “visa problem” is one of the main factors that prevent tourism growth to Greece from the Chinese, Turkish, Indian and Russian markets.

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