Late Greek holidays on upward trend
Dabs Banner: November 2015
Photo: Karsten Bley
Greek airports welcomed almost 15 million visitors in the first ten months of 2015, a rise of nearly 6% on last year.
Latest figures from the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) showed 14.9 million foreign visitors passed through passport control at airports across the country in the ten months to October.
The increase of 5.7% ion airport arrivals this year shows that Greece and the Greek Islands are on track for a third year of breaking records on holiday visitors.
The rise has come despite the economic problems of a country keep in recession and the rising tide of refugees that have arrived on Greek shores from Syria and other war torn regions in the Middle East.
The international airport at Athens saw the highest growth in visitor arrivals at any airport, up an astonishing 26% between January and October.
But Athens was not the only one. Airports across the Cyclades island group, which contains such popular holiday islands as Mykonos and Santorini, posted a 15% rise over the same ten months.
And attempts to extend the Greek holiday season beyond the traditional May to September months shows signs of bearing fruit as the Cyclades in October alone notched up a remarkable 30.4% increase in visitors compared to the same month last year.
Airport arrivals on the island of Crete stayed pretty much the same as last year with a 0.8% drop overall while the Dodecanese island group suffered a 2% drop in arrivals.
Islands in the Dodecanese include, of course, such islands as Kos, Samos and Lesvos where the flood of refugees sailing across from Turkey has been greatest, although it's not known if the refugee crisis has had a direct impact on holiday visitor numbers.
The figures are for airport arrivals only and don't take into account those holiday visitors arriving by ferry or overland. Even combined figures may not give an accurate picture of the tourism picture for Greece as many visitors fly to Athens or to the more familiar Greek islands and then take a ferry to their final destination.
In any event, the figures are encouraging given the recent problems with the economy, the political upheavals and the refugee crisis.
It also appears that tourists who do arrive in Greece continue to spend more cash while on holiday. Data from the Bank of Greece has shown an average 4.5% rise in revenues from the tourism sector over the past five years with tourism adding another 6% to the country's overall wealth through employment and growth in Greek island economies.
SETE is confident that the latest figure keeps Greece on track to end with a new record of 26 million international holiday visitors in 2015.