Visitors from Balkans boost Greek tourism

The tourism scene in northern Greece has changed drastically over the past few years as the presence of holidaymakers from the Balkans and former Soviet bloc countries is becoming apparent all over the region. Along with the Greeks, who have largely replaced the visitors from central and northern Europe, these visitors have breathed new life into northern Greek resorts that were in crisis after the 1990s and the conflict in former Yugoslavia. Hotels, rented rooms and campsites are full again, after years of decline. The large, expensive hotels still attract many northern European tourists, chiefly Germans. But the smaller hotels, rooms-to-let and campsites have received a shot in the arm from Serbs, as well as from tourists from Russia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Numerous visitors from those countries also go further south in Greece, notably to the Cyclades and the Ionian Islands. But, not all the visitors are holidaymakers. Most islands have large numbers of permanent and seasonal foreign workers. From Kea to Crete and Zakynthos to Myconos, foreign workers – primarily Albanians – represent a large portion of the population and of the work force. Some of them have lived for years on the islands and have succeeded in establishing their own businesses, such as, and mainly, tavernas and cafes.

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