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Lesvos Island Still Struggling to Keep Tourism Alive

Lesvos is still suffering a massive blow to its tourist flows due to the ongoing refugee crisis, recording a drop by 40.63 percent in overnight stays, a 42.58 percent decline in the number of visitors and a slump in tourism-related revenue by 35.18 percent while refugees continue to flock to the island.

According to North Aegean General Police Directorate data, 940 refugees and migrants arrived on the island in June, compared to 456 in January, 252 in February, 336 in March, 281 in April and 534 in May, recording the highest number of arrivals thus far in 2017. The island of Chios saw a drop in arrivals while the numbers remained steady on Samos.

Visiting Lesvos, last week, Dodecanese MP Manos Konsolas, head of tourism for opposition party New Democracy citied University of the Aegean data on the consequences of islands turned into ‘hotspots’ by the government.

“Lesvos paid a very heavy price because it was decided that it would have to host illegal immigrants and refugees,” he said, adding that the island had as many charter flights in 2016 as it had in a week before the refugee crisis. In 2017, he said, Lesvos welcomed one cruise ship compared to 53 in 2014-2015.

“The truth is that the government has left tourism professionals on these islands to their own devices as they struggle to reverse the negative image.”

Meanwhile, on a more positive note, island and North Aegean Region authorities are making efforts to reverse the negative media coverage with a far-reaching promotional campaign aiming to showcase the tourism offerings of the island communities.

In this direction, a new wing of the Stratis Eleftheriadis – Tériade Museum & Library as well as the re-opening of the Teriade Collection in the capital of Lesvos, Mytilini, will be inaugurated tonight by Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou. The project, funded under the Crete and Aegean Islands NSRF operational program 2007-2013, cost approximately 2 million euros.


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