Tourism nears 10 pct rise target

The Greek tourism sector is very close to meeting its target of a 10 percent annual increase this year, as data from the Association of Hellenic Tourist Enterprises (SETE) are indicating a 9.95 percent increase in arrivals in the year to July.

International tourism arrivals at the country?s 13 main airports in the year?s first seven months amounted to 6,458,612, against 5,874,144 in the same period last year. All airports posted an increase, except for Athens, which declined by 2.74 percent in the period.

Leading the increase were the airports of Rhodes and Kos, by 28 and 26 percent respectively, while Thessaloniki airport enjoyed an 11.77 percent rise in arrivals.

SETE notes a significant jump in June, compared with June 2010, and a healthy rise recorded in the first two weeks of August too. It attributes the increase to regaining some of the tourism lost last year due to the May violence in Athens, to the unrest in North Africa, the tension between Israel and Turkey, the decline in value-added tax in accommodation and the improvement in the visa-issuing system for Russians.