Resumption of ferry services with Greek islands to boost tourism: official

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İZMİR

The resumption of ferry services between Turkey and Greece’s Aegean islands is expected to give a significant boost to tourism activity in the region, an industry official has said.

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The ban on ferry services, halted for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was lifted on February 7. The restriction also applied to private yachts sailing between the Aegean coasts of Turkey and the Greek islands.

“The ferries transported almost 1.5 million people every year on the routes, such as Ayvalık-Lesbos, Çeşme-Khios and Marmaris-Rhodes. With the resumption of these trips, tourist activity will resume,” said Yusuf Öztürk, from the Izmir branch of the Chamber of Merchant Marine.

Now ferries with up to 49 passengers on board can enter 14 Greek ports, including Kavala, Rhodes, Lesbos, Samos, Limnos, Patmos and Kastellorizo.

Ferry services contribute greatly to the local economy and tourist activity, but they almost completely stopped after the pandemic, Öztürk noted.

Officials from both countries discussed resuming such services at the Turkish-Greek Joint Commission meeting held in the western Turkish province of Izmir in November last year, he said. declared.

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Following another meeting in Greece between officials from the Turkish and Greek ministries of tourism and trade, ferry services have resumed, Öztürk added.

At the moment, the ferries are only allowed to carry 49 passengers, but these ships will gradually be able to serve more passengers, he said, noting that travelers must provide PCR test results within 72 hours and documents. antibody tests.

Ferry operators have suffered badly over the past two years, but maritime tourism will see a strong rebound this year, Öztürk said, adding that the resumption of these services came at a time when cruise traffic in the Mediterranean is also picking up. momentum.

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