Greece is still a big draw for luxury travelers


Greeks may be fleeing their crisis-ridden country in droves, but it is still a favorite destination for luxury tourists.

Greece accounted for 20 percent of the top 15 vacation spots for wealthy visitors, according to Switchfly, which ranked them by length of stay. Athens, site of the Acropolis and the Parthenon, as well as massive protests against proposed new austerity measures, was No. 4 behind Seoul, Dubai and Milan.

The picturesque islands of Crete and Mykonos are also among the top destinations for travelers flying first class and checking into five-star accommodation, according to Switchfly.

“Every year economic, social, and political events affect travel trends," said Daniel Farrar, chief executive officer at Switchfly, which compiled the list from its global booking engine. "This year, we’ve seen a rise in travel to Greece as the country’s economic crisis had made travel more affordable."

The average luxury vacation is more than a week long, with the length of stay varying from 8.3 days in Miami, Florida, to 13 days in Seoul, according to Switchfly's analysis. Europe has seven of the top 15 spots, while Asia has five. Miami is the sole North American destination, while in South America it's Sao Paulo.

The news that more high-spending tourists may be headed to Greece is a rare bright spot in the midst of the gloom enveloping the country, whose economy is forecast to contract in 2015, the seventh annual decline in eight years. The country also recently overtook Italy as a top refugee destination, with many of those fleeing war-torn homelands landing on the very beaches favored by luxury travelers.