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Greek holiday Brits spend more

- by Andy Cornish

UK tourists on holiday in the Greek islands are opening their wallets and spending a lot more money this year, according to latest figures on revenue from tourism.

Holiday spending by Brits on Greek beach holidays has jumped 40% on last year say tourism industry watchers, although UK visitors still trail well behind the Americans, Russians and Germans on the amount they spend in shops and tavernas.

Tourism related industries in Greece have raked in around €4 billion in the first half of 2014, a rise of 13% on last year, according to data released by the Bank of Greece.

Spending by British and French tourists jumped the highest at 40% and 21% respectively but US visitors spent the most at an average €1,131 each compared to an average €751 by Brits. Russians too like to spread their cash around at an average tourism spend of €907, followed by the Germans at €823.

But it's the Germans who are topping the table so far this year with €588 million spent in the first six months of 2014 while British tourist have spend €522 million and Russians €347 million. These three have the biggest tourist numbers by far in Greece and the Greek islands.

The surge in holiday visitors this year is putting Greece on track for its best year ever but the increase in the number of flights arriving and departing through Greek airports is putting local air-traffic controllers under too much stress, according to their union.

Union leaders are planning protest action next month, claiming members' health and air safety are at risk and calling for more funding for training, higher wages and better equipment.

But record numbers are not only flying in for their Greek island holidays this year as border authorities expect tourist arrivals by road to top the five million mark this year for the first time ever.

Figures indicate that one in four tourists will have entered Greece overland this year, putting Greece the top of the drive-in destination in Europe as a percentage of total arrivals.

In Spain only one in six tourists arrives by road or rail but Greek drive-in tourism last year jumped nearly 29% with almost 4.8 million foreign tourists arriving overland in 2013, compared to overall arrivals of 20.1 million.