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Tax-free Turkey tempts Greek holiday shoppers

Kos to Bodrum ferry

Many Greek holidaymakers heading for the Dodecanese islands like to include a shopping trip to Turkey in their Greek Island holiday.

Now they could be in for even bigger bargains as Turkey plans to create tax-free shopping zones along the coast in a bid to attract more tourists.

Holiday visitors to Greek islands in the Dodecanese like Rhodes, Kos and Samos may soon be able to pick up some tax-free bargains at popular Turkish day-trip destinations if plans go ahead to create zero tax zones for tourist shoppers.

Turkey's Economy Minister, Nihat Zeybekci, said Turkey is examining the possibility of creating tax-free tourist zones to attract more holiday visitors to its shores.

Plans include the creation of a zero tax regime for Turkish marinas, hotels, shopping markets and restaurants in key tourist areas along the Mediterranean coastline.

And the focus looks set to be on Turkish coastal resorts close to the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, Chios and Samos, already popular with day trip visitors.

Among the resorts outlined in the plans are Çeşme, near the Greek Island of Chios, Didim across the straits from Samos, Bodrum facing the island of Kos, Marmaris the favourite day trip destination for Rhodes and for other Turkish tourist areas in west Antalya.

Holidaymakers visiting or staying in these areas will not be charged tax on tourism-related products such as goods and services, hotel accommodation and products bought at shopping centres and markets.

It's a bold move by Turkey where tourist numbers have failed to match the record numbers pouring into the Greek Islands yet again this year.

Mr Zeybekci said the duty-free areas could make a major contribution to the competitiveness of Turkey's tourist resorts in the Mediterranean and the Aegean.

Not only will tourist tax-free zones attract more shoppers and visitors they could also prompt private investors to pump more cash into tourist-related attractions.

Holiday visitors to many islands in the Dodecanese already find offers of daily boat trips to Turkey and shopping trips that make for popular excursions.

The main harbour at Kos, for example, is packed with boats offering all-day visits to see the sights at the Turkish resort of Bodrum, only 30 minutes away by boat.

The huge Turkish resort of Marmaris is a popular target of day trip boats from Rhodes and thousands make the trip each year.

Tax free shopping trips could make Turkey more popular, not only as a day trip destination for holidaymakers in the Greek Islands, but also help to boost the country's own tourism prospects with lower prices for food and goods along with cheaper holiday offers next summer.

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