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Greek holidays go up-market

- by Andy Cornish

Greek Island holidays are heading relentlessly up-market with a sharp increase in the number of five star hotels that have opened in the last four holiday seasons. According to latest figures from the Research Institute for Tourism of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, the number of five-star hotel rooms in Greece has jumped more than 30% in the four years to 2013.

And it's not just new hotel buildings that are responsible for the rise in luxury accommodation on the Greek Islands, existing hotels and apartment blocks are being revamped right across the board.

The survey of holiday accommodation in Greece revealed a rise in four-star hotel rooms of just over 4.0% and three-star hotel accommodation increasing by 6.5% while the number of rooms offered in one and two-star hotels dropped 3.0% and 1.5%.

Data from the Greek Ministry of Tourism shows 9,677 hotels in Greece and the Greek Islands in 2013 with a total of 401,332 rooms and 773,445 beds. The statistics show one in seven rooms now classed in the five-star luxury bracket.

The recent rise in luxury hotels is surprising given that the Greek economy has suffered a hard recession and tough austerity measures are in place to help pay off large international debts. But despite the depressed economy in general, the tourist sector has grown significantly with more people than even choosing a Greek Islands holiday.

Although luxury holiday accommodation in Greece is on the rise, the majority of holiday deals in the Greek Islands remain at the cheaper end of the scale with two-star hotels still dominant with a total of 4,203 hotels, 119,157 rooms and 223,932 beds.

And all types of hotel are lengthening their holiday season in a bid to generate more income with 46% now remaining open throughout the whole year compared to 40% in 2009. It is mostly the three-star hotels that operate throughout the winter with 55% offering winter breaks as well as summer.

Surveys have also found a significant rise in older visitors to the Greek Island in recent years with estimates that the over-55s could account for 24% of the holiday market by 2030. Greek cuisine and friendly service were top of the list for the elderly along with the variety of cultural attractions.

The Research Institute for Tourism, which carried out the study, is a non-profit organization founded in July 1996 by the Hellenic Chamber of Hoteliers to study the Greek tourism sector and suggest initiatives to increase tourism in Greece.

It also carries out feasibility studies for tourism-involved enterprises, advises state agencies on matters concerning tourism and organises tourism conventions.