Rhodes welcomes rise in holiday bookings.
Hotel owners on the holiday island of Rhodes are delighted at a 15% surge in airlines booking slots at the island airport as the 2013 Rhodes tourist season gets under way. Recent strikes and street protests at austerity measures in Greece prompted fears that tourists might stay away from the Greek Islands this year.
But early indications are that tourist numbers could be up on last year as Rhodes airport officials report an early rise in the number of airline arrivals.
Hotel owners must wait to see if the rise in bookings for slots at Rhodes' Diagoras Airport translates into tourist numbers but this is clearly a good sign that the holiday market on Rhodes is already picking up for 2013.
The number of landing slots booked at Rhodes Airport is usually a good indicator of tourist numbers. The main demand for more airport landing slots is coming from the UK, Russia, Austria and Israel.
There has been a notable fall-off in German airlines this year. Germany was once one of the biggest tourist markets on Rhodes but the war of words between both countries over euro loans and austerity measures has clearly taken its toll.
The first charter planes of the Rhodes tourist season are expected to arrive in late March with three flights from Israel and six charters from the UK as well as a landing by cheap flight airline Ryanair.
UK holidaymakers make up the biggest percentage of visitors to Rhodes now that the German market has declined but hotel owners in Rhodes hope for a further rise in Russian visitors after a big increase in Russian tourists last year.
Tourist leaders in Rhodes plan a big promotion of religious tours in Russia later this year, a holiday sector that is booming throughout the Baltic countries.
Despite the fall-off in German visitors last year the German holiday firm Alltours reports a rise of 10% in bookings to Greek Island destinations this year with Rhodes, Crete, Samos, the Cyclades and Thassos leading the way although this follows two years of very low tourist arrivals numbers from Germany.