An increasing number of Turkish citizens, the majority from coastal cities and Istanbul, have been arriving on various eastern Aegean islands since Friday, as Eid al-Fitr, a major Muslim religious festival and traditionally an opportunity for holidays and travel – continues until April 14.

The influx is expected to increase in the coming days on the back of the implementation of the express visa process for Turkish citizens.

On Lesvos, some 600 Turkish visitors arrived on three ferry routes, approximately 10% of whom were issued express visas in the port of Mytilene, the island’s capital. Turkish arrivals on Lesvos are expected to have peaked by the end of the coming week. In total, more than 5,000 visitors are expected, with an estimated 500 plus express visas issued. On Thursday alone, over 2,000 people are expected from Ayvalık.

Similarly, there was a substantial influx of Turkish visitors today into the Greek ports of Chios and Samos, arriving from Çeşme and Kuşadası respectively.

The pilot program for seven-day express visas for Turkish citizens visiting 10 specific islands in the eastern Aegean began on April 1. The islands covered are Lesvos, Chios, Samos, Kos, Rhodes, Symi, Kastellorizo, Lemnos, Kalymnos, and Leros. Express visas will be available year-round, with implementation beginning individually on each island, as an online customs system is up and running.