ECONOMY

Tourism growth at 23 pct in 2014

Foreign tourism arrivals rose a remarkable 23 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year to reach a record 22 million, not including cruise visitors, according to the Bank of Greece’s annual border survey that the Hellenic Statistical Authority published on Tuesday.

Germany and the United Kingdom remained the top two countries of origin for tourists to this country, with 2.46 million from the former and 2.09 million from the latter visiting Greece last year. They posted respective growth rates of 8.5 and 13.2 percent. In percentage terms, the most impressive rise came from Bulgaria, as arrivals numbered 1.53 million, growing 151 percent from 2013.

Arrivals from France came to 1.46 million, up 27 percent from the year before, Russian visitors numbered 1.25 million, posting a 7.6 yearly decline, and tourists from Italy came to 1.2 million, up 15.9 percent year-on-year. There was also a 26.9 percent increase in US tourists, to 591,853, and a 17.5 percent rise in Turkish visitors, to about 977,000.

Besides the decline in Russian visitors, there was also a drop in arrivals from Sweden (down 8.4 percent), Norway (7.1 percent), Israel (7.3 percent) and Canada (21.9 percent).

There was a clear rising trend in visitors from emerging markets, with 67.6 percent more Chinese tourists, bringing the total to 47,482, 83.2 percent more South Koreans (to 13,388) and 90.9 percent more Brazilians (52,217).

A key feature of last season was the major 51.1 percent increase in road arrivals, which amounted to 7.3 million from 4.8 million in 2013. This means that one in three visitors to Greece arrived by road last year.

Air arrivals rose 14.3 percent to more than 14 million, but accounted for only 63.8 percent of all visitors, down from 68.7 percent the year before.

The biggest increases were seen at the airports of Santorini (up 26.3 percent) and Athens (24.6 percent).