Symi tourists face passport delays
Dabs banner: May 2013
Symi tourists face passport delays.
Tourism leaders are warning that cruise ship visitors to Symi are facing long queues at passport control. Now travel agents are calling for government help to deal with speeding up the passport checks carried out on visitors sailing into the island's main harbour.
They have written to the Greek Minister of Tourism for more staff to speed up queues at passport control which has only one single stamemberff and one computer.
The port at Symi is visited daily by large numbers of yachts with hundreds of visitors stepping ashore, mainly from Turkey, or sailors from other Greek Islands on their way to Turkey.
Passport and visa issues are handled by Symi police but they can be overwhelmed by the numbers requiring passport checks.
Cruise ships can arrive with hundreds of passengers aboard and passport checks can take hours to process through passport control.
For passengers at the back of the queue, it means all they get to see of Symi is the police station. By the time passports have been checked they must be back on board ship.
The delays mean visitors often sail away again without delay or even decide it's not worth the trouble to go ashore and the island misses out on valuable tourist trade.
Island tourist leaders point out that Symi is a very small island and many holiday visitors may stay only for a few hours strolling around the picturesque harbour and visiting tavernas and shops.
The long delays in checking visitor passports is enough to prevent many coming ashore at all. They stay in their cabins until the cruise ship leaves.
This year Symi police have been told to tighten up on passport control and to check passports in the presence of tourists — especially nationals of countries outside the European Union.
They fear even more trade will be lost as potential visitors sail away, disappointed at Greek bureaucracy, especially when cruise ship passengers can be forced to face passport checks at every Greek Island they visit.