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 >  Greek holidays  >  Greece and Turkey do deal

Holiday deals for Greece and Turkey

- by Archimedes

'old rivals join forces to boost tourism'.

Traditional enemies and tourism rivals Greece and Turkey look set to be getting their act together to boost holiday visitors and improve relations. The Greek Tourism Ministry is to set up a tourism information office in Istanbul to attract more Turkish visitors to Greece and the Greek Islands.

And Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni has referred to the "good climate" between the two countries in the tourism sector and added that several joint travel initiatives were in the works.

Let's hope the tourism links promote better political relations between the two countries. There is plenty of sabre rattling between the two with Turkish military planes regularly intruding on Greek air space and vice versa.

The thorny question of the Turkish occupation of North Cyprus is also a political hot potato that has remained unresolved since 1974.

But at least talks are under way to strengthen cooperation between Greece and Turkey on tourism issues despite both being in serious competition for the summer holiday market.

"Tourism is not only an important source of revenue but also a bridge of cooperation between Greece and Turkey," said Olga Kefalogianni said after a meeting in Athens with Turkish European Affairs Minister Egemen Bagis.

According to recent figures more than 600,000 Turkish tourists visited Greece and the Greek Islands in 2012, nearly treble the number from five years ago.

And last year around 675,000 Greeks sailed and flew to Turkey for holiday, sharply up on the 280,000 Greek visitors in 2003.

The Turkish holiday influx has been helped by lifting visa restrictions on Turkish holidaymakers two years ago. A pilot programme allowed non non-EU citizens from Turkish ports to visit selected Greek islands in the eastern Aegean without having to produce a visa from a Greek consulate.

The tourism minister dubbed the pilot program "successful" and hopes that cooperation in the tourism sector will grow and continue to benefit both countries.

Ministers of both countries have also met to discuss greater cooperation in the cruise ship sector. There have also been talks between Greek and Turkish tour operators over a joint initiative to promote holidays in Far East countries.