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Holiday visitors continue to soar

Mykonos island waterfront

Holiday visitors continue to soar.

While foreign tourist visitor numbers to the Greek Islands soar this summer, the hard-up Greeks are staying at home. Latest figures show a big drop in domestic tourism as Greeks tighten the reins during the financial crisis which has left unemployment in some parts of the country running as high as 27%.

Meanwhile international arrivals to Greece rose 9.5% in the first six months of 2013 compared with the same period last year, according to data from the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE).

Around 4.35 million tourists flew into Greek airports between January and June period, compared with 3.97 million in 2012. June itself saw the biggest rise — up 14.6% on last year with 1.96 million holiday visitors.

Tourism experts are now more confident of Greece breaking the 17 million barrier this year with visitors bringing in revenues of €11 billion euros, although that target may be harder to achieve given the cut-price holiday deals that are being offered this year.

Nowhere had the turnaround been greater than on Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises which has seen a phenomenal increase in tourist visitors this year. In April visitor numbers more than tripled on last year and May saw a 120% rise in tourists to take the 2013 summer season forecast to a 20% rise.

More than 600 cruise ships are expected to dock at Mykonos this year while charter flights are bringing in holidaymakers from as far as India.

Other islands are doing just as well in the first six months with Santorini up 27.5%, Kefalonia 22.5%, Chania 21.8%, Zakynthos 19.6%, Crete 18.6% and Kos 18.1%. Airport arrivals on Rhodes, Corfu and Zante topped one million in June with a 14.7% rise on last year.

Many hotels on the most popular Greek Islands are already fully booked for July and August and the outlook for the foreign tourism market is very optimistic this year.

Domestic tourism however is just the opposite. The poor financial financial situation means that fewer Greeks will be taking holidays in the islands this year and most are resigned to staying at home or stopping with friends.

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