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Corfu leads Greek holiday recovery

- by Archimedes

Corfu leads way in Greek holiday recovery.

Tourism leaders in the Greek Islands report a mixed response to holiday arrivals in the wake the Greek decision to stay in the euro. Tour operators had noticed a sharp fall in visitors booking for Greek Island holidays after street protests threatened a Greek exit from the eurozone.

Now islands like Corfu, Kefalonia and Crete have posted a sharp rise in holiday arrivals compared to last year while others warn of a difficult summer for hotel and taverna owners.

Corfu saw the biggest rise in holiday visitors for June as numbers climbed to 15% more than last year, with a remarkable increase of 20% in holiday visitors from the UK.

Tourism leaders on Kefalonia say holiday arrivals for June are up 13% on June last year, following a very poor start to the season, although hotel owners on Kefalonia fear figures may have been inflated by short break trippers from Italy.

A local hotel owner said: "While the numbers have undoubtedly increased with arrivals up 13%, this does not appear in the local market, the beaches, the customers in restaurants, not to mention the income from hotel rentals."

Kefalonia has always been popular with Italians and figures may have been boosted by low-cost flights and cheap weekend holiday packages from Italy. Nevertheless, holiday arrivals from the UK were up around 6%.

On neighbouring Zante, tourism business claim a dramatic 50% drop in revenues this year and calls for action to promote Greek island holiday tourism.

A consortium of ship operators, restauranteurs and hotel owners are offering discount holiday packages to Greek tourists in a bid to stimulate the domestic market.

Some restaurants are offering a 10% discount on meals, ferry firms are cutting ticket prices by 20% and hotel owners are expected to cut room rates significantly.

On Rhodes, official figures show a drop in visitors of nearly 10% in June, compared to the same month last year as 30,000 fewer holiday visitors flew in.

Tourist numbers are also down in Kos where June visitors dropped 7.8% to about 145,000 with the biggest falls in German and UK tourists, followed by Italy and the Netherlands.

But Crete posted a sharp rise in vistors last month with an 11% increase at Chania airport, although arrivals at Heraklion were up only 2%. Latest figures have to be measured against a 10% rise in holiday visitor numbers across the Greek Islands last year.