Tourist numbers seen above target

Greece will overshoot the target of 19 million foreign visitors this year – and that’s not counting cruise passengers – tourism industry officials said this week.

Including cruise ship visitors will bring the total to more than 21 million. The projection is based on the number of arrivals at the country’s main airports in the first seven months of the year, which was up 16.5 percent on an annual basis. The total number in 2013 was 20.1 million.

Arrivals at Athens Airport were up 31 percent this year to 1.88 million but Kalamata recorded the highest increase – 62.5 percent. Myconos was next, with 39.9 percent, followed by Santorini with 26.7 percent and Hania with 22.9 percent. In absolute numbers Iraklio, Crete was second after Athens with 1.42 million and Rhodes third with 1.07 million.

Receipts from tourism are also projected to reach a record 13 billion euros. Tourism accounts for 16 percent of the country’s GDP and employs 660,000 people.