By Stathis Kousounis
Greek tourism has hit the ground running this year following 2013’s major increase, as revenues have grown by 17.3 percent in the first two months from the same period last year to reach 294.1 million euros, the Bank of Greece announced on Thursday. Those travel receipts also include revenues from cruise activities, which posted an annual increase of 11.5 percent.
The biggest rise – 136.8 percent – was in receipts from Russian tourists, which reached 13.3 million euros in January and February. Spending by British visitors grew by 8.8 percent to reach 17.9 million euros, while Germans spent 3.5 percent more, reaching 25 million euros.
There was a significant 31.9 percent decline in receipts from French tourists to 5.8 million euros, and a 4 percent drop in spending by US visitors, which reached 16.5 million.
In absolute figures the number of foreign tourists in Greece in the first couple of months of 2014 grew by 10.2 percent from last year to exceed 730,000. Despite the drop in the value of the ruble against the euro and the troubles in Ukraine, visitors from Russia increased by 153.9 percent, from the UK by 35.9 percent and from Germany by 4.5 percent. The number of tourists from France shrank by 31.7 percent and from the US by 2.4 percent.
The travel balance for the year to end-February showed a surplus of 11 million euros, against a surplus of 29 million in the same period last year.
The Tourism Ministry has approved a 2-million-euro budget for the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) to participate in international travel fairs from May to December 2014. Of that, some 1.74 million euros will go toward rental costs, operating expenditure and the costs of creating stands at seven international tourism exhibitions; 120,000 euros will go toward the costs of joint participation with public and private corporations in new market exhibitions; and 150,000 euros is destined for covering unforeseeable expenditure, exchange rate variations etc.