Greek Island holidays to end on a high.
Greek Island holidays got a welcome summer boost this year and helped the tourism industry recover from a catastrophic start to the season. Latest figures for holiday arrivals in Greece and the Greek Islands show the country on course to top 16 million visitors this year, a drop of 500,000 on last year. Fears that Greece might leave the eurozone and political protests in the streets of Athens saw thousands of holidays cancelled at the start of the 2012 summer holiday season.
Elections in May and June in the wake of severe austerity measures threatened to cripple the tourism industry which accounts for a massive 16% of the countries economy.
But political stability and better prospects of Greece staying in the euro saw holiday visitors flock back to the Greek Island beaches and a summer heatwave.
Tourism revenues are expected to drop slightly this year to an estimated €10 billion compared to the €10.5 billion spent by Greek Island holidaymakers in 2011.
Hotel and restaurant owners in Greece had expected a 10-15% drop in takings for 2012 and many were forced to slash prices in a bid to attract last-minute and late season bookings, despite increased outgoings as taxes rose and austerity measures began to bite.
In the first seven months of 2012, tourism receipts dropped 7% to €5 billion stoking fears that tourists would stay away this year and add to the countries economic problems.
But Greece was able to lure tourists back to the Greek Island beaches as other favourite beach holiday destination suffered political turmoil, as in North Africa, and economic setbacks, as in Spain.
Andreas Andreadis, head of Greek tourism organization SETE, forecasts a further improvement in Greek Island holiday visitors next year. He said: "We will soon announce our 2013 target and it will be significantly higher."