People, Travel

Refugee Crisis Hurting Greek Tourism

Refugee Crisis Hurting Greek TourismRefugee Crisis Hurting Greek Tourism

As the refugee crisis records huge numbers of migrants reaching southern and eastern Europe, the phenomenon strongly affects Greece’s tourism sector.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees data released on Monday, a total of 218,394 migrants arrived to Europe in October, via the Mediterranean Sea. The majority of them landed in Greece, Travel Wires reported.

The touristic Aegean Islands in the east of the country, with the island of Lesbos at the top, were the most affected areas.

“The impact on the economy of the islands is very big. Most of these islands live from tourism, so there is a fear that tourism will go lower because of the immigrants that flowing into the islands,” George Xatzimarkos, Greece’s Southern Aegean Islands governor, declared for the CNBC.

As tourism accounts for about 20 percent of Greece’s total gross domestic product, visitors numbers increased this year, despite migrant inflow and country’s crisis, according to Elena Kountoura, the country’s alternate minister of tourism for Greece.

“We give priority to human rights, and the tourists as well, so we didn’t have impact so far. We’re very proud to say that all our tourists behave really great and they support these people that left their countries and are trying to survive. It’s not a Greek problem. It’s a European and global problem, so we have to find a solution for these people, because they’re not numbers. They’re souls, they’re humans”, she stated.

Nevertheless, George Xatzimarkos called for a stronger European response, as Greece alone does not have the resources to manage border crisis.

“It’s huge. It’s the biggest crisis that Europe has faced on the migration issue. Europe should finance the camps, because if the camps go down, 5 more million people will try find a way to go to Europe,” he said.

“If we say that this is only a budget issue and that the problem is only financing it, we will underestimate it. It’s very big. It’s a matter of cohesion. It’s a matter of having a foreign policy as Europe.”