Boom time for Greek island holidays.
Holidays in the Greek islands are enjoying a major boost with tourist numbers in 2011 well up on last year despite the current economic problems. Tourist arrivals at airports throughout Greece rose by 9.5% in the first half of the year, according to the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE).
Visitors arrivals at Greek airports totalled 4,214,220 in the period January-June 2011. In June alone arrivals reached 1,782,673 – a 15.8% rise on the same month last year.
It is thought that holidaymakers are cashing in on cut-price holiday deals to the Greek islands as package holiday firms attempt to offset bad publicity about Greece in recent months.
Greek experts insist that street protests at the economic clampdown are confined to small areas of Athens and that the Greek holiday islands are completely free of trouble.
The destinations posting the largest increases in the first half of the year were the Greek islands of Rhodes and Kos, with 33.25% and 31.07% growth respectively.
Substantial increases were also posted in Thessaloniki (11.57%), Heraklion, Crete (15.06%) and Hania, Crete (7.82 %).
The majority of the tourists come from Germany and UK but significant numbers are also arriving from Italy, Switzerland, Russia and Israel, according to figures.
The biggest increase in arrivals to the holiday island of Rhodes were from Israel, up 73% on last year, followed by Russia, up 61%, Poland, up 58% and Finland, up 41%.
Visitors cite the hospitality of the locals, the beauty of Rhodes Old Town and the fine beaches for their choice of taking holidays on Rhodes.
This compares with a drop in the number of Greeks going on holidays in the Greek islands this year. According to rough estimates the number of Greeks taking holidays in the Greek islands this year has dropped by 40%.