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Greek holiday season best ever

- by Andy Cornish

Visitors the Greek Islands surge to 18 million.

Tourist visitors to Greece and the Greek Islands surged to just under 18 million last year in one of the best holiday seasons ever for the country.

Latest figures show holiday arrivals to Greece leapt 15.5% last year to 17.9 million compared to 15.5 million in 2012 with Europe accounting for the giant share of incoming tourists.

The figures put Greece back on track in the holiday stakes after some tough times with the collapse of the economy and a huge international bailout to help balance the books.

The rise in Russian visitors has taken the Greeks by surprise with rose with holidaymakers soaring a huge 56.7% last year to 1.3 million.

The UK and Germany still lead the way in holiday arrivals with 2.1 million Germans and 1.9 million Brits opting for a holiday in the Greek Islands last year accounting for 23% of the tourist market between them.

German holiday visitors were up 7.5% on 2012 but UK visitors were slightly down with a drop of 4% on the previous year.

Detailed figures on Greek Island holidays are reported in the 'Frontier Statistical Survey' conducted by the Bank of Greece for the period January to December 2013.

The biggest number of arrivals came from Germany (12,7%), the UK(10,3%), Russia (7,5%), France (6,4%), and Italy (5,4%) with most arriving by air and by road.

Most holidaymakers flew into Athens with at 14.9% followed by the airport of Iraklion on Crete at 13.5% and Rhodes with 9.9%).

Detailed data for the years 2013 and 2012 respectively are can be found on the portal of the Hellenic Statistical Authority ELSTAT.

Tourism experts forecast even bigger numbers taking Greek Island holidays this year with more than 18.5 million visitors expected to fly out to Greek holiday beaches over the 2014 summer season.

Early season holiday bookings show Germany and France at much the same levels as last year but with a 10% increase in bookings from Britain.