By Matthew HealyGreece may be facing its honeymoon phase, but the country is also facing its first major wave of visa shortages.
A recent study by the Financial Times found that while there are currently more than a million Greeks in the country illegally, the country’s government is struggling to fill the gaps left by the countrywide tourism boom.
The study also found that a whopping 90% of tourists in Greece were not issued with visas in 2014, and that of those, only 37% had the necessary documentation to enter the country.
A similar trend was also seen in other EU countries, as Greece has been dealing with a massive influx of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East.
According to the Financial New York, the number of people arriving in Greece from Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries jumped by more than 70% in the first nine months of the year.
The report noted that this influx has caused the government to introduce a range of measures to combat the problem.
For example, the government has imposed border controls, including measures to restrict the number and duration of visits and impose fines on those who are caught crossing the border illegally.
The Financial Times report also noted that the number who have been arrested for crimes on the island of Lesbos has been steadily increasing, with more than 3,500 people arrested there last year.
The new restrictions have also meant that some tourist attractions have closed, including the famous Euxine Bridge in Lesbos, and the city of Mytilene, where the country has a major tourist destination.
This comes at a time when the countryis facing its biggest wave of tourist visa shortages since the financial crisis, which saw more than 1.5 million tourists leave the country last year alone.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Thursday that Greece’s tourist visa market has become increasingly crowded as the country struggles to cope with a new wave of arrivals.
“We estimate that the Greek tourist visa system is now almost empty, with only approximately 5% of applications being approved,” IOM Director of Country Operations Kristian Hesse told Reuters.
“The system is also becoming overcrowded.
As a result, the IOM expects that there will be a significant increase in the number seeking to enter Greece illegally, especially after the new restrictions come into effect in October.”
According to Reuters, the latest crackdown could have already begun to affect some of Greece’s most popular attractions, such as the Grand Palace, the famous Athens Pantheon and the historic site of the Acropolis.