The impact of the migrant and refugee crisis on the tourism sectors of the Greek islands was discussed in a meeting held on Monday at the Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping and Tourism, chaired by the country’s interim finance minister, Nikos Christodoulakis.
The meeting was attended by the Tourism Ministry’s alternate general secretary, Gerasimos Zacharatos, the Greek National Tourism Organization’s (GNTO) president, Elissavet Chatzinikolaou, and the North Aegean Region’s deputy governor for tourism, Nikos Katrakazos.
According to reports, it was decided that the Tourism Ministry and the GNTO will launch targeted promotional actions for the islands that are currently being used as a gateway to mainland Greece by thousands of refugees and migrants.
The tourism ministry’s alternate general secretary, Gerasimos Zacharatos, and the GNTO’s president, Elissavet Chatzinikolaou, will personally visit the islands of the South Aegean, starting with Lesvos and Samos, to set up a special tourism promotion program in cooperation with local and professional bodies.
According to reports, Lesvos has seen a serious impact on its tourism in recent days due to tension caused by the thousands of refugees and migrants gathering in the island’s downtown area.
Already six cruise ships with about 5,000 passengers have cancelled their port calls this week to Mytilini and Molyvos, citing concerns over the refugee crisis. The ships informed that they would instead dock at the port of Myrina in Limnos.
Island tourism professionals told the press that the development was a serious blow to the local economy and expressed worry that the island’s tourist reputation would be damaged in the medium term.