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Greece: Upward Battle for North Aegean Island Tourism

Harbor, Kos

Harbor, Kos

Regional authorities in the North Aegean region are expressing their concerns  over the decreased numbers of tourists visiting the islands as a result of the ongoing influx of refugees there and the negative media coverage.

In efforts to restore tourism to the islands, the North Aegean Region, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) and the tourism ministry have planned a series of fam trips and media campaigns, while tourism associations called on the government earlier this week to implement relief measures.

Lesvos. Photo © Roy Pedersen / Shutterstock

Lesvos. Photo © Roy Pedersen / Shutterstock

According to the latest data, the islands of Kos and Samos seem to be gaining ground this month. Rhodes, meanwhile is seeing a 10 percent increase compared to last year, but on the contrary, Lesvos — which has borne the brunt of the refugee crisis — has seen a sharp decline in visitors thus far. Statistics released by the Mytlini Airport indicate a 62.8 percent drop in July, ie 6,841 visitors on 47 flights compared to 18,373 travellers on 130 flights in 2015. In June, the traffic flow to the island came to 4,825 tourists against 15,026 the year before.

Lesvos has seen an overall drop of 64.73 percent in the April-July period, with sector professionals saying the island’s tourism will suffer a loss of 495,000 over-night stays and the resultant spending, which the Lesvos Hoteliers Association says amounts to a loss of 742,500 daily wages in 2016.

In a letter sent to the government in June, the association’s president, Pericles Antoniou, said: “All of Lesvos’ tourist destinations have collapsed with hotel occupancy rates dropping by 80-90 percent, impacting employment, consumption and earnings… addressing this emergency situation, which will continue to ‘threaten’ the sector in the coming years, requires immediate relief measures.”

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