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Lesvos strikes marina deal

- by Karen Mills

Lesvos strikes marina deal with Turkey.

Any regular visitor to the Greek Islands will know there is little love lost between Greece and its close neighbour Turkey. Military boats and planes regularly patrol waters and airspace between the two countries, still in dispute over the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. But, in a rare example of cooperation two companies, one Greek – one Turkish, have recently signed a deal to run a marina on the Greek island of Lesbos.

One of Greece's best known luxury retail brands, Folli Follie, and the Turkish conglomerate, Koc Holdings, have joined forces to operate the marina at the Lesvos island capital of Mytilene in a 40-year deal.

Lesbos island lies in the far east of the Aegean sea, just off the Turkish coast with the strait between them only 5.5 km at its narrowest point. Lesbos is an increasingly popular Greek holiday destination.

The Greek Island marina deal comes as debt-ridden Greece pins its hopes on boosting tourism this year in a bid to kick-start its ailing economy, now in a fifth year of recession.

Marine tourism has been on the rise in recent years. Yacht hire and yacht tours of the Greek Islands have become big business over the past couple of decades.

The geographical position of the Greek Islands, the ideal weather sailing conditions and the beauty of its islands have made sailing and yachting a very popular activity among holiday visitors to Greece.

The Greek islands offer anchorage in naturally protected bays of rare beauty, access to remote holiday beaches and swimming in exceptionally clear and transparent waters.

Greek yachting has developed into a vigorous tourist industry in recent years with new marinas boasting excellent faciltities, mooring and maintenance services for a wide range of yachts, large and small.

Tamer Hasimoglu, head of strategic planning for the Turkish company Koc Holding said: "I strongly believe in this cooperation which will yield the most for all the involved parties, since sea tourism in the Mediterranean has been on the rise in recent years."

Greece and Turkey have come to the brink of war on several occasions, most recently in 1996 over territorial disputes in the Aegean, but relations have improved in recent years and the Lesvos holiday marina deal is the latest example.