This summer will be a very different one for Greece in terms of tourist numbers. Visitors to the Greek island of Lesbos will find the popular holiday spot already busy, with Afghan refugees instead of tourists.
Lesbos in particular is finding itself at the centre of Europe’s migration crisis. Tens of thousands of refugees from the Middle East, Africa and events parts of Asia have found their way to this island in the eastern part of the Aegean Sea and are using it as a gateway to mainland Greece and then further north to mainland Europe.
Unfortunately, the migration crisis in Greece and other parts of southern Europe is keeping tourists away and Greece in particular cannot afford its biggest industry to fall to pieces this summer. Both locals and officials are worried that if more migrants arrive, less tourists will want to come.
So far this year, almost half of the 55,000 migrants to reach Greece by sea from Turkey have arrived in Lesbos, the third largest island in Greece. It adds up to a 620 percent increase compared to last year. Cruise ships are already changing their courses, favouring instead Lemnos further north. While the island is so far managing, the arrival of more refugees could have a major impact on tourism.