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More take Greek island holidays

- by Archimedes

More take Greek island holidays this year.

Greek island holidays are still more popular with overseas visitors in 2011 despite Greece's economic problems, but Greeks are staying at home. The number of foreign tourists taking a holiday in Greece has increased significantly on 2010 according to data collected by the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE).

Figures for the six months to the end of July show an increase of 9.5% on last year for international arrivals at 13 major airports across Greece and the Greek islands, with a large increases in Rhodes and Kos.

And tourists visitors are spending more this year with an increase of 5.5% recorded for tourist revenues received at tourist outlets over the first five months of this year.

Visitors arrivals at Greek airports totalled 4,214,220 in the period January to June 2011. Foreign tourist arrivals at Greek airports in the month of June alone reached 1,782,673 – a 15.8% rise on the same month last year.

The Greek holiday islands posting the biggest increases in the first half of the year were the islands of Rhodes and Kos at 33% and 31% respectively while substantial increases were also posted in Thessaloniki for holidays in Halkidiki at 11.5%, Heraklion in eastern Crete at 15% and Chania in west Crete at 7.82%.

The rise is good news for the Greek tourist industry which contributes about 16% of Greece's 230 billion euro economy and employs 746,000 people, or roughly one fifth of the country's 4.26 million workforce.

But important Greek holiday destinations such as the Peloponnese, Thessaly and Halkidiki face growing problems as many Greeks decide to stay at home this year.

The sharp drop in domestic tourism, probably due to the economic crisis and high unemployment, is hitting many mainland resorts. Early estimates put the drop in domestic tourist, at 40% but this figure has now been revised to 20%.