Schengen Rules Threaten Greek Tourism

visaThe Greek government’s decision to re-introduce Schengen agreements for its borders and rules adopted under them is seen by some as a threat to the booming economy of Greek tourism, which employs thousands of Greeks every year.

The new measures will require citizens from countries outside the EU to obtain a visa before entering Greece. For the past few years visa requirements had been lifted for non-European citizens and a simple passport control procedure was enough to allow them access into the country.

The simplified procedures resulted in a significant rise in numbers of Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish, Korean and Chinese tourists. In view of the possible changes to be introduced by the Greek government tourist and cruise agencies are worried that they will lose many customers and Greek tourism will suffer a severe blast during harsh economic times.

Applying and obtaining a visa from the Greek consulates around the world is a time-consuming and expensive procedure according to the existing provisions. The General Director of Majestic Internationa Cruises, Markos Lambros, told Proto Thema daily that waiving visa requirements has led to the increase of Turkish and Russian tourists to Greece over the past years. “Changing the current plain procedure of passport control will inevitably have a tremendous impact on Greek tourism,” noted  Lambros.

Τhree years ago, Majestic International Cruises chartered its cruise ship Ocean Majesty to Turkish Apex-Cruise Holidays enterprise in order to conduct three-day and four-day long cruises around the Aegean islands with the most of the passengers being Turkish nationals. The Greek Ministries of Tourism, Foreign Affairs and Citizen Protection supported the operation, and in 2012 a new cruise ship of Greek interests, Aegean Paradise was chartered to other Turkish tour operators. The two cruise ships have brought approximately 80,000 tourists to Greece.

Turkish tour operators have already booked cruise ships Ocean Countess and Aegean Paradise for 2013, while Luis Cruises is also planning on launching a cruise ship from Izmir or Istanbul to run similar cruises in the Aegean Sea.

The Greek Cruise Shipowners and Shipping Operators Association sent letters to the Greek Ministries to offer a solution to the problem. In their letter they proposed to lower the cost of issuing a visa from 80-100 Euros to 20 Euros per passenger and simplify the application and issuance process, maintain the current simplified passport control procedure, or issue the visa on board by a Greek officer for the respective amount of money.

“Given that Turksih tour operators have already advertised and sold tickets for the cruises with the Greek chartered ships, it is important to come up with a solution to the problem otherwise the foreign agencies will demand compensation from the Greek agencies,” noted Lambros.


  • Alex

    This is a smart  move by Samaras.

    Even If we lose a few tourist temporarily it is well worth the price of long term of taking back control of our borders.  Also Visa applications will generating revenue for the government. (which can be used to boost our immigration department resources to better manage illegal immigration)

  • Alex

    Greeks need to stop with the short term hedonism and think long term Epicurean.

    If we want to improve our country over the long term we need to slowly ween ourselves off heavy dependence on low skilled low paying tourist industry and focus on technology and manufacturing.

  • Spooongienka
  • leventi

    This is a good move. As you say some tourism will be lost but at the moment securing Greece’s borders is more important or else there won’t be a Greece to visit in a few more more years.
    When this socialist multicultural experiment goes horribly wrong Greece will be looked at in envy around Europe. Greece can only succeed in maintaining here cultural identity by defending her borders. Samaras’ patriotism is starting to shine through. 
    He reminds me of Greeks that I knew 40 years ago. Too many young Greeks today have been brainwashed.

  • The maverik

    Greek Tourist Minister has no clues at how to solve the problems in tourism…Every year we lose thousands of tourists to other destination just because Greek missions abroad do not facilitate procedures for tourists wishing to visit Greece…As a professional in tourism, I myself witnessed how non Europeans do obtain a Greek tourist visa…1st) Greek Diplomats abroad do treat people wishing to travel to Greece with utmost disrespect… 2nd) Greek Diplomats abroad do not work full time and because of that many problems arise without any help from consulates staff, in fact they are pain in the ass…Other countries have simplified their visa regulations with results in increase in tourist numbers while Greece the numbers are dwindling…Regulations in obtaining tourist visa must change in order to allow tourist numbers to increase…Last but not least, most visa section staff are corrupt…I myself witnessed a case in Beijing (2002-2004) when a Greek civil servant with his wife in the Greek embassy in China used to charge 5000USD per visa for Chinese wishing to visit Greece…It was reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Greece but no action was taken against them other than been transferred back home…

  • Alex

    We don;t need more tourism jobs. We don’t need any more low skilled low wage jobs.  This is like telling our children to aim to clean toilets, sell trinkets, and serve ouzo to drunk tourists.

    What we need is a principled long term strategy to build a robust economy that will take us into the next century. What we need is a focus on time proven Hellenic values. We need physicists, mathematicians, biologists, and engineers that will convert their knowledge to practical applications.

  • Alex

    I agree. Samaras is an old school patriot. This is why I highly respect the man. 

    Many young Greeks are spoiled children that grew up in leftist families (esepcailly diaspora ones). They grew up watching American movies and are trying to turn Greece into America They are destroying our country and identity to be a McDonalds ripoff .  They dress up like Americans, colour their hair like Americans, play American music, watch Greek versions of American TV Shows. There is nothing of their own. They are consumers of foreign culture not preservers or creators of our own.

  • Guest0820gmt

    Correction in paragraph 6: Incorrect spelling: “Ismir.” Correct spelling: Izmir.

  • leventi

    Correction in paragraph 6: ‘Istanbul’ should read ‘Konstantinopoli’

  • Jason

     We don’t need more tourism jobs?? Tourism is the largest industry in this country. Are you so stupid you think that less tourism jobs means more jobs in other sectors? With a booming tourism industry, the money coming in enriches everyone in every sector, not just trinket shops and bartenders serving ouzo. Don’t be so short sighted and one dimensional.

  • Lino

    There are more typos in this story than I have ever read in a legit online publication.

  • The maverik

    Rubbish…You talk nonsense…Greece has no other industry other than tourism and we need a long term solutions and investment to improve the services and increase the number…Tourism in Greece can bring billions of Euros to the country…

  • leventi

    If Greeks throughout our long history had the same attitude as many Greeks do today, Greek culture, language, philosophy, science, art literature, drama, poetry, democracy etc etc, would have died out long before we would have had a chance to see it.
    One thing you can say about Greeks is their stubborn tenacity to endure throughout history no matter what. Today, we are facing similar challenges as our ancestors did. Enough Greeks will stand up and defend these values. I have no doubt.

  • Republic of Macedonia

    “Alex” , use your brain instead of your mouth & start thinking of new inventions!! You are after all the descendant of Pythagoras & Socrates !

    Chop chop!

  • Willako

    No its istanbul if you live in the present…stop living in the past its been and gone move on!!!

  • Bobby V.

     It is Konstantinopoli past and present!  Not Istanbul!!!!!! Don’t be ignorant Willako

  • Bobby V.

     Samaras is not a patriot!  He is doing this to gather votes from X.A.  He is a traitor with the laws he has passed on all the citizens!

  • Bobby V.

     We need to start thinking of ways to destroy Skopia

  • Adde

    And Jerusalem belongs to the Israelis (If you are logical with your statement about Konstantinoupolis) … Right ?
    Turks are illegal colonizers and one day they will GTFO. Period.

  • leventi

    Yeah Willako….It’s three against one… we win.Nananananh!!!!!!!!

  • bravo

  • adalia

    Good luck waiting for the turks to GTFO. There are over 24 million in Istanbul and surrounding areas alone…thats almost triple the whole of greece.

  • Barry

    The co owner of my boat , a Thai national owning two properties in Thailand plus income (2 year multi UK visa, 10 year multi USA) asked 90 days at Greekembassy Bangkok. Only given 30 days so ruins entire summer sailing plan.

    Same last year – so we ended up in Turkey where we simply show we have money plus yacht and 1 year resident permit

    We jointly spend circa 80,000 euros a year staying aboard the boat with cost of repairs, moorings, maintenance factored in.

    No wonder the yacht industry is booming in Turkey, whilst Greece plays host to low rent package tours and swarms of illegals making many towns and cities no go zones