Greece adds 5 more islands to fast-track visa program for Turkish tourists

Greece has expanded its visa on arrival program, in which Turkish citizens can obtain a visa without the need to apply in advance, to simplify travel to five more Aegean islands.

The Greek Foreign Ministry announced that the fast-track program will be applied to Turkish counterparts on the islands of Symi, Kastelorizo, Icaria, Kalymnos and Limnos as of April 30.

Previously, the program encompassed the islands of Rhodes, Kos, Samos, Chios and Lesvos. Now, with Greece adding five islands to the list, the total number of islands offering fast-track visa options has increased to 10. Greek officials hinted at the potential for further expansion in the future.

Despite the announcement, initial demand for the new visas remained low due to short notice and limited ferry services. Some islands, like Simi and Limnos, lack established ferry routes from the Turkish coast, with service expected to begin June.

Lefteris Papakalodukas, the mayor of Simi, welcomed the new program but expressed reservations about its limitations. “The seven-day visa is a positive step, but it’s not enough,” he said. “Cultural and tourism exchanges foster good neighborly relations. Just as we can visit Türkiye with our IDs, Turks should be able to do the same in Greece.”

“Many Turks visit Simi by boat 10-15 times a year,” Papakalodukas explained. “The visa should be valid for a year, or at least the entire summer season.”

Meanwhile, some 20,000 Turks traveled to five Greek islands in the Aegean Sea during the nine-day Eid al-Fitr break from April 6 to 14, after Greece launched the visa-on-arrival scheme for Turkish holidaymakers.

Source: hurriyetdailynews

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