ECONOMY

Arrivals from outside the EU rise

More Russians and Britons chose to visit Greece in the first nine months of 2012 than during the same period last year, while the Germans and French appear to have turned their back on the country, according to official figures released by the Bank of Greece for the January-September period.

Arrivals from Germany declined by 5.3 percent compared with the same period last year and from France by 14.4 percent. By contrast, visitor numbers from the UK grew by a significant 15.3 percent and from Russia by an impressive 27.3 percent.

In total, arrivals dropped 5.2 percent to 13,483,000, from 14,230,000 a year earlier. Notably, tourism from European Union countries slid 10.3 percent, although arrivals from the other countries expanded by 4.3 percent. Tourism receipts declined by 249 million euros, or 2.7 percent, amounting to about 9 billion euros.

For 2013, the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) estimates that the number of foreign tourists coming to Greece will total 17 million euros, a significant increase from this year.

Meanwhile, at the opening of the Philoxenia exhibition in Thessaloniki late on Thursday, Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni announced an action plan for the combination of the country’s tourism product with its agricultural production complete with the creation of institutions to strengthen this combination in cooperation with the Agricultural Development Ministry.