15 January 2010

Macedonians Cool on EU Travel after Visa removal

The visa liberalisation failed to increase the interest of Macedonian citizens to travel in European countries belonging to the Schengen zone, show data obtained by the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI). The number of persons who left the country after the visa regime was lifted on Dec. 19 until Jan. 12 has raised insignificantly compared to the same period in 2008/09.
According to MoI statistics, 208.257 passengers exited Macedonia during this period and 169.936 passengers entered. A year earlier in the same period, 193.185 passengers left the country and 171.178 paid a visit. The visa liberalisation also failed to boost the work of travel agencies.
The chairman of the Association of the Travel Agencies of Macedonia (ATAM), Mile Spirovski said the expectations for increase of touristic travels abroad weren't met. - On the contrary, the interest for traveling has decreased and it is at the lowest possible level at the moment. The main reason for it is the economic crisis, he stated.
Two weeks after the visa liberation entered into force, the interest for traveling to EU countries was increased by 30%, but it gradually was reduced to the average dynamics. Figures show that the visa liberalisation is being implemented without major obstacles, because out of over 200.000 passengers, only 77 Macedonian citizens were denied entrance in a Shengen country.
Representatives of the EU delegation to Macedonia told media that the visa liberalisation was being implemented successfully, without serious problems. The visa regime abolition opened an opportunity for Macedonian citizens to travel freely in the European Schengen area containing 28 countries, 500 million people and a territory spanning 4,3 million kilometers square.
The people of Macedonia can travel to 25 EU states, with the exception of Great Britain and Ireland, and in another three European countries, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

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