Schengen Visas Present Obstacle for Tourists Trying to Visit Greece

    Greece is losing three to five million tourists annually due to problems arising with the issuance of Schengen visas, said Andreas Andreadis, president of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises.

    Two million tourists from Russia visited Greece in the past five years, according to the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Pavlos Geroulanos. At the same time, 14 million Russians spent their summer holiday in Turkey where no visas are needed.

    Last week, Greece announced it was taking measures to mitigate visa issuance for tourists from non-EU member countries, including Russia. Greek diplomatic and consular services have been ordered to prepare visa papers within a period of two days.

    In 2011, Greece was visited by 16.4 million tourists, while tourism revenues were 10.5 billion euros. Greek authorities hope the results will improve in 2012. However, there are fears that tourists will skip Greece this year as a result of the deteriorated image of Athens.