Greek tour operators and travel agents are calling on the government to take immediate actions to cover under-staffed consulate services in view of the increased demand for visas this summer.
More specifically, in a letter to relevant ministries, the Federation of Hellenic Associations of Tourist & Travel Agencies (fedHATTA) said coordinated actions were necessary so that efforts made by tour offices to boost incoming tourism would not go to waste due to bureaucracy.
“Increasing staff at Greek consulates and strengthening the operation of the visa centers is the key that will increase tourist flows from non-traditional markets, which will in turn compensate for both the negative effects of the pandemic and the loss of a large share of travelers from countries affected by the Russia-Ukraine war, issues that an organized tourist destination such as Greece should have already considered,” said fedHATTA.
The federation provided a list of countries affected most by the lack of staff and delays in the issue of travel documentation. Among these, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and Iran.
FedHATTA noted that in India, visa decisions are announced last-minute at the loss of both travel companies and customers, while in Kazakhstan, there are long delays for visa approvals.
Lastly, referring to Brazil, the federation stressed that incoming tourism to Greece is hindered by a remittance tax that must be paid in advance.
It should be noted that according to the latest “Long-Haul Travel Barometer” released this week by the European Travel Commission (ETC), Brazil is the only long-haul market where travel sentiment increased significantly compared to a year ago with Brazilians thinking about visiting Greece.
According to FedHATTA, the potential for the development of inbound tourism to Greece is significant and efforts must focus on improving services and procedures for travelers.
“In order to achieve faster, more efficient and more flexible services for prospective travelers, especially for countries where there is growing interest, it is necessary to increase the number of personnel at Greek consulates and fine-tune cooperation with visa centers,” the federation concluded.