Hopes for Greek island holiday boom in 2012.
Greek tourism leaders are hoping that Greek island holidays continue to buck the trend in the coming year.
Improved figures for Greek holiday tourism were the only bright spot in the gloomy landscape of the Greek economy in 2011.
According to holiday surveys, 2011 was a year of recovery for the tourism market in Greece with the year notching up an overall increase in holiday visitors of nearly 10%.
The Greek holiday islands of Kos (up 21.8%) led the way with double-digit rises also reported on Rhodes and Crete, while the Cyclades island group recorded an increase in tourist visitor numbers of 13.1%, according to a survey by Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasting, in collaboration with the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels.
Holiday visitors from Germany showed the biggest increases, followed by the English and Dutch. Far greater numbers from Russia and Eastern Europe are now taking holidays in the Greek islands, although they are still some way behind German and UK tourist visitors.
The Bank of Greece also reported that tourists are spending more on Greek island holidays with receipts up 12.6% on 2010. Flexible pricing and a cut in VAT on accommodation for foreign tourists, are likely to have contributed to the good performance of the sector.
Greece is still one of the top tourism destinations in the world despite the economic woes of 2011. Lonely Planet places Greece among its top 10 destinations and the Greek Islands were voted the best island destination in the world by Conde Nast readers in 2011.
Greek island holiday tourism has shown a steady increase over the last decade – from 14.2 million visitors in 2004 to more than 17 million people in 2010.
Forecasters predict that in a few years this number will reach 20 million, almost twice the country's population. The rise in tourist numbers and the evolving profile of the modern tourist will demand a shift in tourism offerings and infrastructure projects, according to experts.