The number of travelers from neighboring Turkey to the Greek islands hit a record high in the first half of 2017 up by 50 percent to 55,447 compared to the same period in 2016 and expected to double by year end.
Turkish holidaymakers prefer visiting the North Aegean islands with tentative data for the first six months of the year placing the figures at 28,000 on Chios, 13,624 on Lesvos and 13,558 on Samos – all in close proximity to Turkey.
For the month of June, Chios saw the number of Turkish tourists grow by 53 percent to 10,000 compared to the same month last year, while Lesvos marked a 214 percent increase at 6,315 and Samos a 217 percent rise to 7,000. In the seven months to July, Samos marked a 71 percent rise compared to last year.
“The increase in arrivals from Turkey is impressive despite issues like the earthquakes or the devaluation of the Turkish lira. Tourists from Turkey are usually families, they come for a week to Greece, they enjoy themselves, they are not stingy, they spend a lot of money, up to 200-250 euros a day, they eat at restaurants and make purchases,” Mytilini travel agent Aris Lazaris told Greek daily Kathimerini.
“It is very important that tourism from Turkey continues throughout the year thus stimulating the economy,” said Samos Mayor Michalis Angelopoulos.
Sector insiders however told Kathimerini, that delays at understaffed control points are causing problems with tourists from Turkey having to spend hours in line.