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Cruise ships head to Greece

Louis Olympia cruise ship

Cruise ships head to Greece.

Cruise ship operators are switching to Greek Islands' ports as political unrest continues in Egypt. Greece and the Greek Islands are among the top options of international cruise ship forms as they draw up their 2014 schedules. At least six Greek ports have received applications to book docking berths next year as cruise operators cancel their calls at Egyptian ports.

Greek Islands to benefit are Crete's Heraklion and Agios Nikolaos, Santorini, Rhodes and Corfu.

It is a further boost for the Greek tourism industry which has already seen a record number of holiday arrivals this year.

It's not just big numbers of arrivals, tourist are spending more with revenues topping €3 billion in the first half of the year, a jump of nearly 18% on last year when visitors stayed away in the aftermath of strikes and street protests against austerity measures.

In the month of June alone, revenues from tourism soared 20.6% to €272 million according to figures from the Bank of Greece.

Greater interest by cruise ship companies comes as the ports of Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Alexandroupoli attract the lion's share of interest from private investors who want to acquire all of their facilities.

The Greek government is committed to selling off state-owned port facilities and the port of Thessaloniki looks set to lead the way in the privatisation, followed closely by Piraeus with growing interest from investors in Europe and the Far East.

The privatisation of Greece's smaller ports is much more complex than it is for bigger enterprises but plans are in the pipeline to sell off the ports of Patra, Igoumenitsa, Corfu, Elefsina, Lavrio, Rafina, Kavala, Volos and Heraklion.

Investors are thought to be most interested in ports that can generate cruise ship activity notably at Igoumenitsa, Corfu and Crete.

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