Mytilene, Greece - Dimitris Boutris owns a fish tavern in Mytilene, the capital of Lesvos island in Greece.
His high expectation in July for attracting more Turkish tourists to his tavern in the summer soon fell apart with the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, less than 10km away from the Greek island.
Boutris told Xinhua that his tavern and all the stores of the downtown area were full of Turkish tourists at the beginning of July. “All the restaurant owners, including myself, thought Turkish visitors would be a good opportunity to outweigh the number of tourists we lost, due to the huge decrease in European flights during the summer,”said Boutris.
Then the coup attempt on July 15 in Turkey changed the whole picture: there was a drop of 22 percent in Turkish tourists arrivals in July and a 41.46 percent drop in August comparing to the same period of 2016.
“I still remember the evening of July 15,” said Boutris.”All Turkish clients who had filled my tavern, turned their heads to the TV screen staring at the news. Half an hour later the tavern was empty.”
Since 2015, more than a million migrants and refugees have arrived to Greece and then moved on to Western Europe, half of whom passing through Lesvos, which has about 85 000 residents.
Yiannis Samiotis, the president of Lesvos travel agents union told Xinhua that “the refugee crisis influenced the local tourism this summer a lot, in spite of the deal between the EU(European Union) and Turkey to stem the influx.”
According to the official data of Lesvos airport “Odysseas Elitis”, the number of European passengers arrived at Lesvos in July 2016 was 6 841, which is 62.77 percent lower than the same month in 2015.
Samiotis said the coup attempt in Turkey played a major role to this decline in tourism. According to the local police, 8 836 Turkish tourists visited Lesvos in August, comparing to 15 094 arrivals in the same month of 2015.
In July, there were 11 887 turkish visitors to the island while in July 2015 it was 14 403. “We expected a lot of people from Turkey,” Aris Lazaris, the owner of a travel agency told Xinhua.
“A Turkish tourist equals to five Europeans in terms of purchase power and this is something extremely satisfactory for the local market,” he explained.
Aimilia Voulvouli, assistant professor of social anthropology of Abdulah Gul University, told Xinhua that after the coup attempt “there is a feeling of uncertainty, which of course has financial implications too.”