According to reports from the Russian Union of Travel, Greece may be dropping the ball where plane loads of Russian tourists headed on May vacations are concerned. News from Interfax-Tourism suggests more than 10,000 visa applications have yet to be approved.
As of last Friday, the Greek Consulate in Moscow is back-logged with thousands of submitted applications, it may or may not be capable of processing in time for May holidays. Visa application centers of Greece in Moscow, on Nikitsky Boulevard and on the 2 Volkonsky lane, has accepted since last week, some 2600 people, of which 1800 are clients of travel agencies, and another 900 of whom dropped in without an appointment. Ordinarily, the centers receive only about 400 visitors a day. The Consul General of Greece Mrs. Eleni Michalopoulou (below right) has already apologized to leaders of travel agencies for the Friday collapse. She has promised that the documents will be processed, and hopefully in time for via approvals.
Also according to the Greek Consulate, workers there are processing as many as 800 passports per day, but no one seems to be sure if all the visa requests will be honored. Greek authorities have repeatedly stated that they expect the growth of Russian tourist flow to the level of 2013. Many tour operators have highlighted the growing demand over the last months since the Egypt and Turkey crises curtailed travel by Russians to key destinations in those countries.
As of today, the Greek visa center on Nikitsky Boulevard accepts the documents by appointment only. May Day celebrations across Russia spur travelers to embark on vacations, and now Greece is on the proverbial hot seat to garner repeat travelers. The press Secretary of the Russian Union of travel industry (PCT) Irina Turina, had this to add:
“The big problem is easy to see, as it takes days to process 10 thousand visas. Additional Consulate staff will help solve the problem, but even if they will appear today, they still have to learn the process here. The May holidays arrive in just 3.5 working days, and on Friday the Consulate is leaving at Easter.”
Like I said, Greek officials are definitely on the hot seat, it remains to be seen if the visas can be processed fast enough.