Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was on hand at the port of Mytilene on Friday, on the large eastern Aegean Island of Lesvos, to personally greet a group of Turkish holiday-makers that arrived on one of the many vessels ferrying Turkish citizens who are now taking advantage of a new express-visa process inaugurated on a handful of Greek isles.

The fast-track seven-day visa process for Turkish citizens, begun on March 31 and expected to be extended to other islands as well, has been a tremendous success so far.

“This development fulfilled a long-standing request of the regional authorities but wasn’t at all easy to accomplish. What you see today, which we view as more-or-less self-evident, required a great deal of work by the migration policy minister and his team in order to convince the European Commission that we’re ready to meet the high-level requirements of the Schengen (Pact), now allowing us to issue a visa essentially within minutes,” Mitsotakis said at the port.

Remindful of the fact that Lesvos bore the brunt of the 2015-19 irregular migration crisis in the eastern Aegean, which witnessed hundreds of thousands of third country nationals being ferried from the opposite coast to Greek, and by extension, EU territory, he also said a recent rapprochement in relations with Turkey, he said this development has helped reduced illegal migration flows.

Mitsotakis visited the large island as part of an “unofficial” campaign tour ahead of the June European Parliament election, where among others, he inaugurated a stretch of a new provincial roadway on Lesvos measuring nearly 47 kilometers and visited a museum at the island’s petrified forest national park.

Specifically, during the first 10 days of April alone this year, 3,800 Turkish travelers visited Lesvos, up from just 390 a year ago, while the number of Turks visiting Chios (Hios) increased from 2,716 to 4,993.

Almost 6,000 Turkish holidaymakers traveled to Rhodes during the religious holiday, up from 2,320 a year earlier. Samos and Kos welcomed 2,851 and 3,300 Turkish tourists, respectively.