Please visit Lesvos – it is still as beautiful and as safe as it ever was
No matter how accurate the reporting of the ongoing refugee crisis on the island might be, the bottom line is that the crisis may lead to the collapse of the island’s tourism and with it significant income for a significant number of the island’s inhabitants.
>> Read a longer version of this article on Birdguides.
>> A spring week from just £211 inc. flight and hotel see here.
The ongoing refugee crisis remains critical and one which politicians seem incapable of adequately addressing. The people of Lesvos have been abandoned by the European politicians in their struggle to cope with the continual arrival of refugees from Syria and other nations. NGOs are supporting the islanders, but it is a political solution, and funding, which the people would welcome more than anything. The people of Lesvos helping with the crisis on a daily basis are to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The consequences of the crisis are now beginning to be felt on the island itself as it becomes clear that the island’s tourism industry is being threatened. Some travel companies have pulled out of the island altogether. Others have reduced their flights or package holidays. But that aside, the simple perception that because the island is at the frontline of the refugee crisis means that people do not want to go there. Despite 98% of the island being unaffected by the crisis, seeing no refugees, and importantly, the island remaining completely safe. The perception there is a problem with the island has resulted in there being a problem with the island. And there is not. Help to spread the word!
In mid-January bookings overall for the 2016 tourist season are reported to be 70% down. Lesvos has seen a gradual decline in recent years linked with the Greek financial crisis and the negative image that has also created generally for many Greek holiday destinations.
Here, Bill Vogiatzis, owner and manager of one of the main hotels at key resort Skala Kalllonis, eloquently explains both the situation and reality of the crisis and the impact it is having on the island’s tourism.
Another hotel owner, Jorgo Sakalis of the Kalloni Bay Hotel, Skala Kallonis, recently emailed a regular Lesvos visitor the following:
“To tell you the truth the real story, in brief, is better than last summer since everything has been organised by NGO teams and local authorities. So although migrants are still coming, in great numbers, they are directly transported to Mytilene where after being recorded they are taken to Pireaus. Thus you never see migrants going on foot to Mytilene or elsewhere. Everyday life has not changed for natives, on the contrary some of them work as volunteers helping them. What really worries us is how people abroad see the current situation, so we believe people like you, who are familiar with our island and its inhabitants and have always stood by us, may inform whoever is interested about the real situation. I would like to thank you for your concern and support.”
So the reality is that you can, if you wish, holiday on Lesvos without ever seeing or coming in to contact with anything to do with the refugees. The island remains as beautiful and as safe as it ever was. And by visiting Lesvos you will be contributing positively to both the island economy and to the refugee crisis. With tourism accounting for around 30% of the island’s income, the loss of this income, or a significant part of it, will destabilise the island as a whole and the island’s ability to continue to respond so positively to the continual arrival of refugees.
If you are struggling to find a charter package or flight to holiday on Lesvos this year, then look for flights via Athens (most major European airports fly to Athens) and book your hotel direct with the hotel of your choice. All the hotels are easily found the web.
So please, visit Lesvos. Have a great holiday. And tell your friends.
Supporting the refugee effort
If you would like to actively help the refugees and support those islanders supporting them, then this is a useful website: Ways top help refugees
Thank you for supporting the people of Lesvos.
25 January 2016