Costly visas hit reservations

The system that requires appointments at consulates and the increase from 15 to 35 euros in the price of a visa spoiled the plans of many people from countries in the Balkans and Southeastern Europe from vacationing in Greece. Not a few of them canceled their reservations of holiday accommodation in Pieria, leading to a drop in the expected number of visitors, especially from former Yugoslavia. Most of them go through travel agencies, as individual tourists cannot deal with the red tape alone. The high cost of the visa has hit Pieria the hardest, explained Dimitris Micholos, president of an association of proprietors who rent rooms. He said that several travel agents had canceled contracts signed in 2004 because they could not meet the costs, and chose instead to send their clients to Turkey. The procedure of getting a visa is time-consuming, and though Greek hoteliers try to assist visitors by means of invitations, they cannot cater to the demand. Nonetheless, the Greek office in Skopje is the only one to issue 100,000 visas a year, bringing in yearly revenues of 468,000 euros.

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