The Chios Tourism Organization (CTO) is calling on the government to implement a series of measures in an attempt to restore the island’s reputation after being impacted by the refugee crisis and now by the coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and to all relevant ministries, the recently set up CTO is requesting among other things the extension of the airport runway, the creation of a separate brand/identity for the Northeastern Aegean islands, and the chance to host international events that will boost island revenue.
According to the CTO, Chios – the 10th largest island destination in the Mediterranean – on the receiving end of massive migrant flows from Turkey has seen tourism figures plummet in 2019, down to a mere 750 visitors.
“In the absence of basic infrastructure and in view of negative publicity due to the refugee crisis over the last five years, tourism on our island is starting from scratch,” said the CTO in the letter, adding that it is vital its key demands to support entrepreneurship are met so that Chios is not “in danger of being eliminated from the international tourism map”.
Other demands tabled by the CTO include the immediate expansion of the airport, the completion of the master plan for the upgrade of Chios port, customs, and coastal front, stronger promotional activities, tour operator deals, enhanced ferry connection, benefit tourism options, a 48-hour visa for non-Schengen country nationals, a 50 percent decrease in visa fees for Turkish nationals, cheaper ferry tickets, special tourism training programs, and the chance to host international events and conferences.
The CTO goes on to add that it has signed memoranda of cooperation with the municipalities of Chios, Psara and Oinousses, the Chios Chamber and the Northern Aegean Region.
With regard to the coronavirus pandemic, the CTO is requesting that additional safety and relief measures be implemented for tourism professionals, including offering financial support to hotels that were forced to shut down, employee subsidies, the suspension of tax and property tax payments and insurance contributions, as well as of public utilities and bank instalments, and the abolition of the stayover tax for hotels and rooms to let.