Visa-Free Scheme for Turkish Nationals Causes Long Lines at Lesvos Points of Entry

The visa-express scheme introduced by Greece on April 1, 2024, has sparked an increased interest among Turkish citizens in visiting the Greek islands.

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Recent images published by the Greek media show many Turks in Ayvali waiting in long lines to board ferries headed to Lesvos, Schengen.News reports.

In addition to the visa-on-arrival scheme, the notable surge in Turkish tourists visiting Greek islands is attributed to the increasing prices at tourist destinations in Türkiye, as reported by the newspaper.

According to the same source, businesses in Türkiye have increased prices to take advantage of the presence of wealthy Russian and Arab tourists, which has pushed Turkish citizens to choose the Greek islands due to the lower prices.

The Chairman of the TÜRSAB Regional Representation Board, Mustafa Demir, also stated earlier that due to issues and high prices in Bodrum, Turkish citizens now prefer Greek islands for their vacation.

We started to lose even the Turkish tourists we had to our neighbours.

Mustafa Demir, Chairman of the TÜRSAB Regional Representation Board

Lesvos Welcomed Over 1,700 Turkish Tourists for Eid Holiday

While Türkiye is reportedly seeing a decrease in local tourism, the Greek islands are experiencing a surge in Turkish visitors.

During the Eid holiday, Lesvos welcomed more than 1,700 tourists from Türkiye, with most of them coming from Istanbul, Izmir and other Turkish cities.

In addition to Lesvos, other Greek islands saw a record number of Turks following the implementation of the visa-on-arrival scheme. Between April 1-10, 2024, Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos, and Rhodes combined welcomed 20,690 Turkish tourists, as reported by eKathimerini.

Such a figure represents a significant increase from 5,969 during the same period in 2023.

During the first ten days of visa-on-arrival policy, Rhodes was the most visited island with 5,726 tourists, followed by Chios (4,993), Lesvos (3,800), Kos  (3,300), and Samos (2,851).

Greece Launched a Special Visa Scheme for Turkish Citizens on April 1st

On April 1, 2024, Greece introduced a special visa scheme for Turkish citizens, following an agreement between by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the President of Türkiye, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in December 2023.

This special visa program allows Turks to visit the following Greek islands with a visa on arrival for up to seven days, single entry:

  1. Lemnos
  2. Lesvos
  3. Chios
  4. Samos
  5. Leros
  6. Kalymnos
  7. Kos
  8. Rhodes
  9. Symi
  10. Kastelorizo

The express visas, priced at 60€, will be issued all year round at the designated ports, not only during the summer months.

However, the Greek authorities have cautioned that this single-entry allows entry to the above-mentioned islands and that it cannot be used to enter other Schengen states. To avoid any potential entry breaches, the Greek authorities warned of stricter police controls.