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Refugee Crisis Causes Drastic Drop in Tourism on Lesvos

Lesbos_ImmigrandsThe refugee crisis has taken a heavy toll on the Aegean island of Lesvos, which this year saw a sharp decline in tourist arrivals, one of the main sources of income for its economy. The island that became a byword for the European refugee crisis, not least for the generous hospitality that its residents showed to the desperate people arriving on their shores, has lost seven in 10 of last year’s tourists.
After the floods of refugees and migrants washing up on its beaches, littering its shores with garish orange life jackets as they passed through on their way to Europe — and the iconic images of the unfolding crisis that filled the global media — arrivals of European tourists have plummeted to just a fraction of last year’s levels.
According to figures released by Mytilene airport, passenger arrivals in June 2016 dropped to just 4,825, down from 15,026 in the same month last year, for a decline of 67.89 percent and an estimated loss of revenues of about six million euros. The drop in arrivals was attributed directly to the migration crisis, with troubled tourists selecting alternative destinations in the country.
In the first quarter of the 2016 tourism season, from April until June, there were a total of 9,904 arrivals, roughly a third of the 29,106 that arrived in the same period in 2015. If the trend continues until October, the island will have lost an estimated 55,000 tourists that stayed an average of nine nights each, or 495,000 stays in total.
According to a study by the Lesvos Hoteliers’ Union, this will deal a severe blow to the island’s tourism industry since each lost stay translates to the loss of 1.5-2 day’s wages and between five and six kilos of fish and agricultural products consumed.
A small ray of hope amid a generally gloomy picture has been a rise in the number of flights from the Netherlands and Denmark, though this is not enough to offset the huge losses, hoteliers said.
Hotel owners and travel agencies said they intend to push for a series of relief measures to minimize the damage to their businesses, such as lower utility rates, tax breaks, special winter prices and others.
Source: ANA-MPA

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