Private sector organisation points to 32 per cent jump in UK travellers in January to AugustGreece is firmly back on the minds and in the travel plans of UK visitors, who have travelled to the Mediterranean country this year for its unique mix of history, culture, endless beaches, island life, gastronomy and ever-growing array of singular experiences.
Newly-released figures show that the number of UK visitors – including both leisure and business travellers - to Greece shot up by 32 per cent between January and August 2014, compared to the same period in 2013, according to private sector tourism organisation Marketing Greece.
UK arrivals were particularly strong from London – up 43 per cent – due, in part, to recent airline investment in routes to Greece and from Edinburgh, with carryings up a massive 61 per cent in the period January to August 2014, according to the latest figures from Athens International Airport.
The Bank of Greece figures confirmed that Greece welcomed 10.5 million foreign visitors from January to July 2014, resulting in travel receipts increasing by 14 per cent to 6.68 billion euros. These figures place Greece among those countries registering the highest growth in international tourist arrivals in the world in the first half of the year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Strong growth in international visitors to Greece came from the United States, up 29 per cent and from France, up 19 per cent during the first seven months of 2014 at 293,000 visitors compared to the same period last year*.
Overall, 2014 arrivals to Greece are expected to reach a new record of 21.5 million, including cruise passengers, compared to last year at 20.1 million travellers. Direct tourism earnings are anticipated to total 13 billion euros, up from 12.2 billion euros in 2013**.
Marketing Greece, a not-for-profit organisation founded by the Greek tourism industry, with the aim of showcasing Greek destinations and experiences while promoting seamless co-operation between the private and public sectors, says the total number of international travellers to Athens has increased considerably, up 528,000 in the first eight months of the year compared to the corresponding period in 2013. These figures are now higher than those of 2009, when the economic recession in the Euro zone began to bite. With almost 60 per cent of international travellers visiting Athens in the second half of the year, the total annual increase is expected to surpass 800,000*.
Alexandros Vassilikos, President of the Athens-Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association, a shareholder of Marketing Greece, noted: “This visitor number increase corresponds to about 390,000 additional hotel overnight stays and translates to 142.8 million euros for Athens’ real economy, that is hotels, stores, restaurants and bars, municipal rates, taxes, intermediaries, etc.”
Marketing Greece Managing Director, Iossif Parsalis, said: “The tourism industry in Greece has seen healthy growth in recent years. The Greek capital, in particular, has now made an impressive rebound and the latest figures for Greece overall are a cause for real optimism.
“These figures are reward for the investment that has been made across the country – by Greece’s carrier and international airlines, Athens International Airport, hotels and service providers.”
Parsalis added: “The rise in visitor numbers demonstrates that, beyond the unsurpassable Greek sun and beach holiday so beloved of Britons, travellers are now discovering that the country offers an incredible diverse range of value-for-money experiences, anything from hiking on Crete in spring and skiing in northern Greece in winter, to shipwreck-diving in summer and private countryside culinary classes in the autumn.”