BUSINESS

Tourism arrivals to exceed 17 million

Experts revise forecasts as season is faring even better than expected, according to June data By Stathis Kousounis

June posted an impressive increase in air arrivals from abroad at the country’s popular holiday destinations, confirming that 2013 will indeed be a record year as far as arrivals are concerned. The number may grow far above the 17-million mark after all, offering some extra cash to Greece’s struggling economy.

Preliminary data for Iraklio, Rhodes, Corfu and Zakynthos, four of the country’s most popular airports for tourists, showed that arrivals from abroad exceeded 1 million in June, posting a 14.7 percent rise from the same month in 2012.

Arrivals at Iraklio airport rose 19.8 percent, at Rhodes 18.4 percent, at Zakynthos 12.5 percent and at Corfu 8.2 percent. Early signs point to a significant increase of 16 percent on average at the airports of Kos, Myconos and Cephalonia, too.

A significant number of hotel in spots that are popular with foreign tourists have stopped taking bookings for July and August as they have reached 100 percent occupancy rate in most cases.

Sources say that even the original target of 17 million tourism arrivals from abroad could actually prove too conservative in the end. This due to the current unrest in Egypt and recently in Turkey that has stemmed the tourism flow to these neighboring countries.

Forecasts for arrivals from Russia have already been revised upward as tourism bodies have raised their expectations from 1 million to 1.2 million tourists from Russia this year. In fact the Russians were the biggest group to visit Rhodes in June, posting a 67.4 percent annual rise, against a 20.2 percent increase for the French. On Zakynthos the annual growth rate of visitors from Russia reached 156.3 percent, while there was also a notable rise of visitors from Belgium, by 85.3 percent.

The United Kingdom’s Foreign Office has just instructed British travelers to avoid trips to Egypt, apart from Red Sea resorts. Since the issue of the travel advisory, several major tour operators in the UK have canceled flights to Cairo and Luxor, while cruise operators have changed their schedules as well.

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