A faster process for granting visas to 3rd country nationals scheduling cruise vacations dominated talks on Monday, February 6, between the relevant shipping and island policy minister and representatives of Union of Cruise Ship Owners and Associated Members.
Sector officials told Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis that Turkey's "off year" in 2016 is an opportunity to attract more Chinese cruise ship vacationers, for instance, this year.
Holiday-makers from the vast Chinese market interested in Mediterranean cruises overwhelmingly chose Turkey in previous years, sector officials said, pointing to a much easier visa issuance process for the neighboring country - as opposed to Schengen Treaty member-state Greece - and direct flights.
According to statements from the meeting, tourist visas for Chinese nationals wishing to visit Greece take between one and two months, something that is a decidedly negative factor in promoting Greece as a cruise destination.
A similar problem existed for tourism visas for Russian nationals, although it was overcome by adding staff to Greek consulates and attempting to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy, a development that has cut processing time to just days.