Tourism professionals at one of Lesvos’ most popular destinations, Molyvos, are expressing hope that 2018 will see visitor flows recover following the devastating consequences of the refugee crisis there.
The Molyvos Tourism Association (MTA) expects 55,000 arrivals from Europe in 2018 compared to 43,756 last year, but still way below 75,613 in 2015.
“We have been working systematically since 2015 and are expecting more flights this year. The bet is to promote Lesvos. We can welcome some 70,000 people,” MTA President Nikos Molvalis told Greek daily Kathimerini, adding that municipal authorities were at the same time making contacts with foreign tour operators.
According to MTA data, the number of weekly charter flights from Europe to Lesvos are on a steady rise, approaching pre-refugee crisis figures.
The tourism authority is also forecasting an increase in the number of visitors from neighboring Turkey via the new Petra-Küçükköy ferry link, a collaboration between MTA and Lesvorama tourist agency.
“The refugee crisis caused a great deal of damage,” said Molvalis, noting that the MTA is aiming through its promotional strategy — under the title “Lesvos: After All, It’s Still the Aegean” — to restore the island’s tainted reputation, ensure flights to the island are fully booked and extend the tourist season while improving the services offered.