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Halkidiki pulls in more visitors

- by Archimedes

A seven per cent rise in holiday visitors in 2013.

Halkidiki has not always been the first choice Greek holiday for British tourists despite its long coastline of sandy beaches. But Greek tourism officials are delighted that Halkidiki has notched up a seven per cent rise in holiday visitors for 2013 compared to the same period last year.

The 'three fingers' of the Halkidiki peninsula are most popular with Germans holidaymakers who make up the bulk of annual holiday visitors.

But more British and Russian holidaymakers are learning of the delights of the peninsula with a 10% rise in overnight stays at the area's holiday hotels.

According to figures from the Halkidiki Hotel Association, Germany once again topped the market in the main summer season period of June to August which saw around incoming 400 flights from 14 airports across the country.

Arrivals in Halkidiki from Russia also rose 15% with 275 flights from 24 airports and Ukraine visitors were up a huge 30% on the previous year with 60 flights from six airports.

Halkidiki has never figured among the top Greek destinations for British tourists but this year looks like it may turn that around with visitor numbers up 10% this year with 89 flights from six UK airports.

Halkidiki hotel owners are particularly please with the opening up of new markets which has helped offset the serious decline in domestic arrivals as a result of the recent financial crisis.

Hotels report a massive 40% rise in visitors from neighbouring Turkey this year as well as a sharp upturn in holidaymakers from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Italy.

The Halkidiki Tourism Organization has now launched a series of initiatives to attract more visitors from Europe, Asia including press trips for foreign journalists, hosting famous stars and participating in international tourism exhibitions .

Halkidiki is the three pronged peninsula on the north-east coast of mainland Greece and is served by the airport and ferry port of Thessaloniki.

The prongs on the peninsula are Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos and they are noted for long, sandy beaches, deep coves and fast-developing tourist resorts.

Kassandra, to the west, is the most developed for tourism with purpose-built holiday resorts all around the coast. Sithonia is more hilly and is very popular with campers, although luxury hotel resorts can also be found.

Mount Athos, or Holy Mountain. Athos is the wildest and much of it is owned by Christian Greek Orthodox monasteries with tourists confined to the north.

Halkidiki has the longest single stretch of coastline in Greece at around 500km and much of it composed of long sandy beaches and deep bays.