World

Where are the tourists? Greek islanders improvise to survive impact of financial crisis

  • This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, aerial photo shows a view of Pavmotis Lake, with the lake isle and city of Ioannina, in northwestern Greece. The country's severe financial crisis has forced businesses to seek fish exports in eastern Europe and promote the area as a day-trip destination. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, aerial photo shows a view of Pavmotis Lake, with the lake isle and city of Ioannina, in northwestern Greece. The country's severe financial crisis has forced businesses to seek fish exports in eastern Europe and promote the area as a day-trip destination. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, photo, fisherwoman Tasia Gini checks family boats during sunset on Nissaki (Islet) of Pamvotis Lake in Ioannina city, northwestern Greece. The country's severe financial crisis has forced businesses to seek fish exports in eastern Europe and promote the area as a day-trip destination. Local fishermen catch carp and eels. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    In this Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014, photo, fisherwoman Tasia Gini checks family boats during sunset on Nissaki (Islet) of Pamvotis Lake in Ioannina city, northwestern Greece. The country's severe financial crisis has forced businesses to seek fish exports in eastern Europe and promote the area as a day-trip destination. Local fishermen catch carp and eels. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, photo Vangelis Gatopoulos catches a fish on his nets in Pamvotis Lake of Ioannina city, northwestern Greece. Local tourism has suffered from the country's financial crisis despite a boom elsewhere in the country helped by an increase in overseas visitors and European air travel. The crisis has forced businesses to seek fish exports in eastern Europe and promote the area as a day-trip destination. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

    In this Friday, Aug. 22, 2014, photo Vangelis Gatopoulos catches a fish on his nets in Pamvotis Lake of Ioannina city, northwestern Greece. Local tourism has suffered from the country's financial crisis despite a boom elsewhere in the country helped by an increase in overseas visitors and European air travel. The crisis has forced businesses to seek fish exports in eastern Europe and promote the area as a day-trip destination. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)  (The Associated Press)

What's not to like about this island, with its cobbled streets, traditional stone-built houses, affordable fresh fish, and a quiet 15-minute boat ride from the mainland?

But Pamvotis Island is missing out on Greece's tourism boom, hurt by its geography and the country's severe financial crisis.

Not in the Aegean or the Ionian Seas, the island is in a lake near Greece's border with Albania, and was popular domestic destination before Greece came to the brink of bankruptcy four years ago.

Its 300 permanent residents have seen bookings drop by half, and have had to adapt their businesses while waiting for crippling recession to end.

Many locals split their time between fishing and working in tourism services, and have expanded lake fish exports to eastern Europe, while promoting the tiny island as a destination of weddings and family ceremonies, as well day-trip stop thanks to a newly built highway that spans across northern Greece.