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Early bird surge in Greek Island holidays

- by Andy Cornish

Holiday companies are reporting another surge in bookings for Greek Island holidays this year.

Some companies report a 5% rise in summer vacation bookings to Greece as tourists turn their backs on Mediterranean countries troubled by domestic problems.

The Greek Islands appear to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of 'crisis' headlines in places like Tunisia, Egypt and now Turkey.

January sales promotions helped spur a 2% overall rise in package holiday bookings compared to last year. Analysts also note a 15% year-on-year increase in summer 2016 short-haul bookings so far.

Holiday companies report than once-growing destinations like Tunisia have been almost entirely wiped out while sales of holidays to Egypt are down 88% this year.

Holidaymakers switching from once-popular resorts like Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt and Monastir in Tunisia is believed to be behind the rise in bookings to Greece.

Spain, Portugal and Cyprus have also seen a sharp rise in early bird booking this year while the big losers are Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco.

It's a similar story in German, the other big tourist customer for the Greek islands. Crete and Rhodes are the most popular islands for German tourists this year with bookings up 25% for Crete and 14% on Rhodes.

It follows a season of decline in German tourist numbers in the wake of Greece's financial bailouts by the EU.

German tourists too are turning their backs on Egypt and Turkey where bookings to the latter slumped 40% in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Istanbul.

Egypt too has suffered a sharp decline in bookings with demand for Red Sea holidays continuing to plummet.

Meanwhile, Greek Islands specialist Olympic Holidays has added a trio of less well-known Greek islands to its portfolio this year.

The travel firm is offering holiday breaks on Ithaca, Milos and Tinos to its summer 2016 programme.

The company admits the additional islands is unlikely to have a big effect on passenger numbers but showed the strength in depth of the travel company's knowledge of the Greek Islands

Olympic Holidays Commercial Director Photis Lambrianides said: "The appeal of the small islands is incredible, but they are not going to make the difference of tens of thousands of passengers as the bed capacity is so small."