After the complete ban on ferry travel between Turkey and Greece which lasted two and a half years, ships once again began crossing the sea this spring – an encouraging sign for Greek tourism. In March and April, 30.000 people arrived on the islands of the Eastern Aegean and the Dodecanese from Turkish ports, and it is estimated that as many as 1000 passengers per day may arrive during the summer months.
Since most ferry companies operating these routes are Turkish, Greek shipping wasn’t affected in any major way by the ban, but local economies on the islands were. During the pandemic, the loss of income on some of these islands due to the lack of tourists arriving from Turkey was felt, especially in the off-season.
The itineraries mainly concern Rhodes, Kos, Patmos, Samos, Chios, Lemnos, and Lesvos, as well as Kavala. Many travelers choose to visit the islands for a one or two-day trip while on vacation in Turkey, while others use the ferry connections on long-haul trips, continuing on to other islands, the mainland, and other European countries. As pointed out by Yusuf Öztürk, representative of the Turkish Maritime Chamber in Izmir, in an interview with Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, ferry services are also used by Greeks who travel to Turkey for day trips.
In addition, the abolishment of the ban was great news to cruise companies, who can now sell routes with stops in both Turkish and Greek ports. The latest official figures show that Turkish ports welcomed 54 cruise ships this year, most of which include the Greek islands, carrying almost 35,000 passengers between January and April.
This article first appeared in Greece Is (www.greece-is.com), a Kathimerini publishing initiative.