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Holiday bookings up for Greece

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Early signs suggest Greece could be in for another bumper year for UK holiday visitors in 2018, despite Brexit and the stagnant pound.

Figures released at the recent London World Travel market show early bookings up for Greek Island holidays with some travel companies reporting a double-digit rise on this year.

Package tour operator Thomas Cook says early bookings for Greece next year are already up 12%. And Travel giant TUI has announced new investment plans for Greece that includes ten new four-and five-star hotels and expansion in cruise services.

TUI said the increase the number of visitors to Greece this summer was up 10% to 2.5 million making Greece the second most important destination for the TUI Group after Spain.

The news follows a spectacular year for Greek Island holidays in 2017 with significant rises in international arrivals for most islands and the figure could top 30 million by the year-end.

Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said recently that the government had negotiated a rise in the number of inbound flights to Greek airports which are currently undergoing a major revamp after being sold off to a private consortium.

Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) president Yiannis Retsos also noted that the UK bookings picture is an improvement on last year, confirming the strength and Greek tourism enterprises. The British accounted for 11.3% of all tourism arrivals last year.

The vote for Brexit may well be hitting Britons' pay packets, and the exchange rate against the Euro is not in favour of UK holidaymakers, but the downturn is not hurting the holiday plans of UK families.

The numbers of British tourists to Greece is expected to pass the 3 million mark this year, a double-digit rise on 2016, while early bird reservations for next year are already at record highs.

Greek are benefitting from political troubles in other Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia as holidaymakers opt for more stable destinations.

The tourism market is now huge for Greece, accounting for a fifth of the economy which has church by a quarter overall during the debt crisis.

And business is helped by Greece slowly becoming an all-year-round destination as hotels and taverns stay open later and open earlier in the season.

Athens, Santorini and Crete have become popular autumn destinations for holidaymakers from Germany, Britain, Italy and France.

The National Geographic Traveler recently named Greece one of their Best Fall Trips of 2017 saying: "the best times to visit Greece are spring and fall because you'll find the best weather, blooming wildflowers and hotel availability."

Travel website trivago also suggested autumn as the ideal time to visit the Greek islands when the sun is not quite so hot, but the water remains warm for swimming, prices are lower, and there are fewer tourists around.

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