S. Aegean Governor Calls for Pilot Visa Plan to ‘Save’ Refugee-hit Isles
The governor of the South Aegean Region, George Hadjimarkos, has called on European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos to proceed with the launch of a pilot visa scheme that will allow travel to the Eastern Aegean islands, which have seen their tourism figures dwindle due to the ongoing refugee crisis there.
In a letter to Avramopoulos, Hadjimarkos proposes that the pilot program start in March for visitors coming from Iran and in April for travelers arriving from Russia and Turkey in efforts to draw in tourists to Eastern Aegean island ports.
Hadjimarkos points to the repercussions of the refugee crisis to the islands’ tourism industry and economies impacting the number of foreign traveler arrivals there between March and May 2016.
“In this difficult financial backdrop boosting tourist flows to the islands in our region is of vital importance”, Hadjimarkos said, urging the “prompt launch of the pilot visa program to tourists from third countries through Turkey to the Eastern Aegean islands”.