More Brits opt for Greek holidays
Dabs Banner: March 2015
Photo: Andrei Dragomir
UK holidaymakers are giving holidays in Greece the thumbs up this year with a massive 66% increase in British visitors to the Greek Islands in January.
And its not just the Brits that are booking flights to Greece this year; airports overall have seen a 50% rise in visitor arrivals from all over the world this year .
It puts Greece and the Greek Islands well on course to beat last year's record total of 21.5 million holiday visitors, the second year in a row that the country broke all-time holiday visitor records.
According to early figures from the Bank of Greece, incoming traffic to Greece in January alone topped to 606,000, up 49.9% on last year and bringing in a 9% rise in cash to €14 million from holiday travel sources.
Arrivals from other EU countries rose nearly 27% to top 132,000 while visitors from non-EU countries almost trebled from 87,000 in January last year to 239,000 in 2015.
Greek tourist leaders are particularly pleased with the rise in arrivals from Germany, up nearly 51%. Greece has traditionally been a strong holiday destination for Germans and appears to be coming back into favour after years of decline.
French visitors to Greece have also increased sharply this year, up 30% but, not unexpectedly, Russian tourist numbers have dropped substantially thanks to problems with the falling value of the rouble and the shock collapse of a number of East European travel firms at th eend of last year.
Russian visitor numbers dropped nearly 70% on January last year with just 3,000 visiting Greece; this is sharp contrast with US arrivals which jumped nearly 56% to 15,000.
Greece has become a particularly attractive holiday destination in markets such as Britain and the US following the drop in the value of the euro against other currencies, particularly the British Pound and the US Dollar.
It has made holidays in Europe is as much as 25% cheaper for US tourists this year than in 2014, while the continuing financial crisis in Greece helped to keep prices even lower.
The Greek capital of Athens and the resort city of Chania on Crete are the favourite destinations of foreign holidaymakers heading to Greece and the Greek Islands over the Easter break, according to the online travel search engine Trivago.
Searches on the site for holidays in early April placed both cities top for British holidaymakers with the islands of Rhodes, Kos and Mykonos not far behind for potential travellers from Britain and the rest of Europe.
Latest figures from the Greek Civil Aviation Authority show air arrivals in February look likely to continue the upward trend. Early indications are than flights to Greece showed a 20% rise onthe same period last year bringing in more than 17,000 passengers to holiday airports across the Greek Islands.
But, although visitor numbers are rising, the tourists appear to be spending less once they get there. Bank receipts show tourist spending is up on last year but not as much as expected given the rise in tourist numbers.
The Bank of greece estimates that €170 million was taken at hotels, tavernas and other tourist venues in January compared to &euro156 million last year.
The drop in tourism receipts may be in part due to visitors being more careful with their money but it may also reflect the low prices across the country this year as the Greek economy continues to struggle under the burden of heavy international debts.