Despite Economic Crisis, Turkish Tourists Flood Greece

FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 file photo, pilgrims walk outside Kirmahalle Cammi mosque in the northeastern Greek town of Komotini. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos, File)

Turkey’s growing economic crisis, with the lira plunging after the United States doubled tariffs on Turkish steel, isn’t keeping Turks from spending vacations in Greece, where they can get beer without being hassled and are spending, even if carefully.

The city of Alexandroupouli, population of 60,000, not far from the border, is booming thanks to the visitors, the German news site Deutsche Welle reported.

“We live mostly from Turkish tourists,” seafood restaurant owner Kyriakos Stogios said. “We didn’t know what to expect from them at first but now we know their presence is the best thing that could have happened to us.”

Being on the waterfront makes Alexandroupouli even more attractive, especially for wealthy Turks. Last year Turkish tourists accounted for 80 percent of the sales in the city and local businesses said the lira’s fall hasn’t kept the Turks from spending.

“Despite the fall in value in the lira, they can still eat for less here than in Izmir or Bodrum,” waiter Damianos Makarios told the site. “When someone pulls up in a car worth €140,000 ($160,000), you know the type of customer you are dealing with,” he said.

Hotelier Dimitris Xanthoulis, who owns a five-star facility, said the Turks want to gamble too. “There is a casino located right beside our hotel and with gambling banned in Turkey, Alexandroupoli has adapted cleverly to the demand,” he said, with Turkish tourists providing half the casino business.

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