Turkish vacationers face fast visa hurdle for Rhodes

Several Turkish tourists wishing to travel to Greece’s Rhodes via visa-on-arrival procedures found themselves unable to enter the island in the Aegean Sea due to a quota being fully met, resulting in holiday distress.

Greece has recently launched a fast-track visa program, in which Turkish citizens can obtain a visa without the need to apply in advance, to simplify travel to 10 Greek islands. During the Eid al-Adha holiday, Turkish tourists flocked to the islands, but some of them who headed to Rhodes faced a series of problems as they were not allowed to receive a fast visa.

Rhodes officials told daily Hürriyet that the overcrowding was caused by agency owners in Marmaris and Bodrum.

Aris Lazaris, the visa officer for Lesbos, stated that there were no issues on other islands,and the problem was unique to Rhodes.

“There is a quota for visas issued at the ports for ferry passengers. Agencies attempt to bring more people without coordinating with Greek counterparts. This quota does not exceed 300 for Rhodes. However, this holiday saw 650 applications, and naturally, the local police cannot process such a number.”

“Turkish companies did this to sell more tickets. This issue doesn’t occur on other islands. The responsibility lies with the agency operators in Marmaris and Bodrum who collect visa documents from citizens. If the quota is to be exceeded, permission must be sought from the police; agencies should not act independently,” Lazaris explained.

A representative from the Turkish tourism sector, on the other hand, attributed the problem to the “unpreparedness” of Greek authorities in handling the surge.

“The customs side in Rhodes was caught unprepared for Türkiye’s holiday season. If the Greek government granted us long-term visas, we wouldn’t face this issue. The number of holidaymakers is increasing, but the other side fails to organize this properly. Last holiday, 20,000 people traveled to the islands. This holiday, the number might reach 50,000,” said Engin Ceylan.

Turkish authorities expressed its discontent through diplomatic channels and initiated talks with Greek authorities to prevent similar occurrences in the upcoming period.

The Turkish Embassy in Athens intervened with Greek officials, resulting in the arrangement for the 300 stranded Turkish tourists to travel to Rhodes on June 18.

Source: hurriyetdailynews

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