Foreign workers who have settled permanently have begun opening their own businesses

Balkan visitors usually choose seaside destinations in northern Greece, while those from the former Soviet bloc countries tend to go for the Aegean and Ionian islands. «The accession of those countries to the European Union seems to have favored Greek tourism so far, since more of their people are coming to Greece,» said Yiannis Evangelou, president of the Greek League of Travel Agents. A poll conducted in Czech Republic and Slovakia showed vacationers there chose Greece as their top tourist destination. Businesses Tourism is not the only draw for the droves of people from the Balkans and former Soviet republics going to Greek holiday resorts. Most of the islands also have many permanent and seasonal foreign workers. From Tzia to Crete and Zakynthos to Myconos, foreign workers – primarily Albanians – represent a large portion of the population and work force. Some of them have lived for years on the islands and established their own businesses, mainly tavernas and cafes. According to the 2001 census, 5.13 percent of the migrants in Greece live in the Aegean islands, 6.15 percent live in Evia, 5.7 percent in Crete, and 2.57 in the Ionian islands. They represent 8 percent of the inhabitants of the Aegean islands, almost 10 percent of the population of the Ionian Islands, and 7.56 percent of the population of Crete. These figures have risen since 2001, judging by what local authorities told Kathimerini. Myconos has some 4,000 migrants, about a third of the population. «They work mainly in construction, as laborers and in service industries as kitchen hands and assistant waiters,» Myconos Mayor Christos Veronis told Kathimerini. «Most of them are Albanian but there are some Bulgarians too.» On Andros, some 2,000 foreigners have lived there permanently for a decade. «In summer, about 200 foreigners come here to work on farms,» said the island’s mayor, Manolis Vamvoukas. «Recently 30-40 Poles came to work in construction. «Most of the foreign workers are Albanians who have become integrated into the island’s community and whose children have done particularly well at school,» Vamvoukas continued. «Some of them have opened their own businesses, such as cafes.» Construction, cleaning On Tzia, also known as Kea, 700 of the 2,250 inhabitants are Albanians who have been living there with their families for some years now. «Most of the men are involved in building and the women work mainly as cleaners,» said Tzia Mayor Nikos Demenagas. «After the Olympic Games there was a new but smaller influx of foreigners.» On Amorgos, the 200 migrants who live there have become a stable part of the island’s population of 1,850 permanent residents. «Most of the permanent workers on Amorgos are Albanians and Egyptians who work at hotels, rented rooms, in the port and construction,» said Mayor Nikos Fostieris. «Recently some Albanians have opened their own restaurants.» Farming, fishing On Santorini, more and more migrants are opening their own businesses. In the municipality of Thera alone, six new businesses – ranging from restaurants to book shops – have opened. On Naxos, a sizable number of migrants work mainly on farms as they do on Zakynthos, where foreigners also work in fishing and tourist enterprises. The total number of foreign workers on the islands is 2,500. Most of them are employed as waiters, chamber maids, domestic workers and builders. In recent years, the families of these workers have also joined them on the islands, increasing the foreign population.

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