Migrant influx affects tourism in Greece’s Island of Lesvos

CCTV News

Greece Migrants Migrants stand in front of the statue of Liberty near the port of Mytilini on the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, Greece, on Friday Oct. 7, 2016. More than a million migrants and refugees crossed through Greece and on to other EU countries since the start of 2016, while over 60,000 have been stranded in the country since the EU-Turkey deal took effect and the Balkan transit route north was closed. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Last year, the Greek island of Lesvos in the northern Aegean made headlines as the main entry point to Europe for migrants coming from Turkey. Thousands arrived daily. By the end of 2015, hundreds of thousands made their way there by the end of 2015. As a result of the migrant influx, tourists are staying away.

CCTV’s Filio Kontrafouri reports on the impact this is having on locals who depend on the tourism industry.

Migrant influx affects tourism in Greece's Island of Lesvos

Migrant influx affects tourism in Greece's Island of Lesvos

Migrant influx in Greece's Island of Levos causes concern among tourism business owners. The Greek island of Lesvos is eerily quiet during what should be the height of tourism season. Few tourists wander its streets, cruise ships have stopped coming, tour operators have cancelled flights and in some parts of the island, bookings are down by more than 70 percent.

The Greek island of Lesvos is eerily quiet during what should be the height of tourism season. Few tourists wander its streets, cruise ships have stopped coming, tour operators have cancelled flights and in some parts of the island, bookings are down by more than 70 percent.

Refugee flows have dramatically decreased since the EU and Turkey struck a deal in March, but the island is now known as a refugee island.

The entire island has been cleaned up. Beaches have been cleared of thousands of life jackets and rubber boats refugees left behind as they reached Lesvos.

New arrivals are now placed inside the island’s two camps. Those in the tourism business are frustrated that potential visitors remain leery about coming.

Instead of tourists, it’s aid workers, asylum officers and European border protection personnel who come and stay in the island’s main town. And local shopkeepers complain they don’t spend money like tourists.

Locals hope they can re-brand Lesvos before the next tourist season begins. Otherwise, they say they will be fighting for their survival, not unlike the refugees they have helped on this very island.