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Longer Greek holiday season

- by Jeremy Guest

Best figures ever for visitor arrivals.

The attempt by the tourism industry to extend the Greek island holiday season beyond the traditional May to September looks like it is beginning to pay off.

Latest figures show more arrivals at airports across Greece and the Greek islands in both the months of October and November as tourist arrivals for the whole year look set to break the all-time record.

Data published by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) shows that holiday arrivals in Greece for the first 11 months of 2013 posted a double-digit rise to nearly 11% compared to last year.

Extending the traditional holiday season beyond the main summer months has been one of the top priorities of the Greek government and of Greek tourism leaders.

Greece experienced its best October ever for the number of international visitors flying in to the country's airports, according to SETE.

International arrivals in October jumped 21.5% on 2012 figures, showing that more people are becoming attracted to out-of-season holiday offers.

It appears that the capital city of Athens may also be making a comeback after a couple of seasons of falling visitor numbers.

International arrivals at Athens International Airport in October rose by 13% while the 10 first months of the year revealed a small increase 1.3% – the first rise for any period this year.

The Greek government is confidently predicting a new record this year and an even busier summer holiday season in 2014.

Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said: "The 2013 is a year with record tourism. The number of arrivals is expected to be increased by 10 to 15% and to exceed 17 million. This is a record. We believe that we can change the image of Greece. The first figures for 2014 are very good. We are expecting another record."

The Greek hotel industry is also showing signs of a healthy recovery. Hotels recorded a 1.2% rise in turnover for the third quarter this year, compared to 2012 when it suffered a 11.5% drop on the year before.

According to the Greek Statistical Authority), the figures included hotels and similar accommodation, holiday and other short-stay accommodation, camping sites, facilities for recreational vehicles and trailers, other accommodation, restaurants and activities mobile food, catering services for events and other activities in the food service industries.