By Stathis Kousounis
Greek tourism is continuing in summer mode even though the country is officially in the fall season, as October data Kathimerini has seen regarding foreign tourism arrivals at some of the country’s most popular regional airports point to unprecedented growth.
The number of holidaymakers that arrived at Iraklio Airport on Crete reached 173,432 in October alone, rising 23 percent from the same month in 2012, when arrivals amounted to 141,022. Rhodes Airport also registered a six-digit figure as arrivals numbered 120,614 last month, up 24.7 percent on October 2012.
Tourists arriving at Hania Airport, also on Crete, soared 40 percent to reach 67,659 from 48,322 in the same month last year, while Kos reported an even greater increase, equal to 49.4 percent, as arrivals reached 57,579 from 38,527 a year earlier.
Charter flights from abroad are continuing to arrive this month too at certain airports, such as those on Crete, following the decision by some tour operators to extend the tourism season in this country due to the continued unrest in Egypt.
After meeting in London with leading tour operators such as Thomas Cook and TUI to discuss plans for 2014, the president of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), Andreas Andreadis, told Kathimerini that bookings are up by an average rate of 10 percent compared to 2013. This deduction is based on the fact that usually, by this time of year, around 10 percent of the following year’s bookings from the UK market have already been made by the average total of 2 million Britons who visit this country every year. Andreadis said it is necessary that Greece maintains its good image abroad if Greek tourism is to retain its rising course.
To this end, Marketing Greece, the private nonprofit organization set up by SETE, the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels and the Association of Advertising and Communication Companies of Greece (EDEE), is planning to launch a website (discovergreece.com) in January that will promote the hidden treasures of Greece as a destination, mainly unique, little-known places that tourists are expected to enjoy exploring. It will also cooperate with the municipal authorities in Athens and Thessaloniki on the creation of six tourism courses in the two cities.