BUSINESS

January-May tourism revenues increase

STATHIS KOUSOUNIS

Tourism revenues showed unexpected growth in the first five months of the year, compared with the same period in 2007, according to Bank of Greece (BoG) data. Travel spending by non-residents in Greece from January-May 2008 grew by 8.2 percent or 157 million euros, reaching 2.065 billion euros from 1.908 billion euros in the same period last year. In May alone, tourism revenues increased by 13.7 percent, or 131 million euros, reaching 1.084 billion euros. This rise in growth is much higher than the increase in arrivals from abroad by air, which came to just 2.8 percent in the same period. This is attributed to the redistribution of tourism traffic from the main and emerging markets. The catalyst for the rise in revenues has been the growth in tourism from Eastern European markets, and mainly Russia. The considerable number of Russian visitors have also contributed to the rise in hotel occupancy rates, particularly in northern Greece. By contrast, the British market is shrinking in terms of arrivals, but this has not affected revenues. BoG data also showed a rise in Greeks' spending abroad, which grew by 16 percent, or 151 million euros, from the first five months of 2007. In May, Greeks spent 220 million euros abroad against 17 million euros last year.

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