All consular authorities of Greece are instructed to extensively use all Schengen visa system facilities to issue visas without delay and with the minimum of formalities, Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Monday 10 September.
During a meeting with a delegation from the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE), the foreign minister said a significant increase in the number of visas granted this year to citizens from non-Schengen countries had been recorded.
Mr. Avramopoulos informed SETE on the encouraging results of the visa facilitation pilot program implemented in the summer that provided faster procedures for a Schengen visa.
In June, a visa facilitation pilot program was launched and allowed non-European Union citizens to enter five Greek Eastern Aegean islands from Turkey without a visa from a Greek consulate. The foreign minister said the ministry was discussing ways to expand the program.
According to the president of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB), Basaran Oulousoi, the visa facilitation pilot program had significantly helped the cooperation between the two countries, Greece and Turkey.
During his visit to Athens on 4 September, Mr. Oulousoi informed Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies (HATTA) that towards the end of the summer season some 500,000 Turkish visitors were vacationing in Greece.
However, he requested for visa procedures at the consulates of Izmir and Bozburun to improve.
The tourism minister said the ministry would further approach issues through collaborations with the counterpart ministry of the neighboring country and private sector representatives (HATTA and TURSAB).
Greece to support Turkey
In a meeting on during September with the president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey, Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, the tourism minister said Greece would support the right of Turkish travelers’ free movement in the European Union.
According to press reports, Mrs. Kefalogianni said Greece would back Turkey’s bid for visa-free travel across E.U. countries, because “tourists from the neighboring country support Greece’s economy.”