Russian, French tourists boost 2011 visitor numbers

Arrivals from France, Russia and Portugal bolstered the number of visitors to Greece by 9.5 percent last year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority reported.

A total of 16.4 million people arrived in Greece in 2011, up from 15 million the year before. Visitors from Russia increased 64 percent to 738,927 and those from France increased 32 percent to 1.15 million, according to agency data. The biggest increase was from Portugal, whose 34,642 visitors represented a 78 percent jump.

The most common means of entry into Greece was by air, which accounted for 71 percent of arrivals last year. Twenty- three percent of arrivals came by road and 5.8 percent by sea.

Visitors from Europe as a whole, who accounted for 89 percent of all arrivals, climbed 10 percent to 14.7 million. The largest number of arrivals came from Germany, whose 2.24 million was 10 percent more than a year earlier.

The 52,118 arrivals from Brazil represented a 53 percent increase from 2010, the biggest rise from outside Europe.

Tourism contributes 16 percent of Greek gross domestic product and accounts for one in five jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, an industry group. [Bloomberg]