July tourism figures stir hopes

July tourism figures stir hopes

The negative atmosphere surrounding the Greek tourism sector as a result of a flat first half to the year looks set to be dispelled after encouraging figures for July, especially with regard to arrivals from abroad and last-minute bookings.

Andreas Andreadis, the head of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, said Thursday that the preliminary data from Athens, Iraklio and Corfu airports suggest that late bookings had increased substantially as there was a double-digit rise in the number of arrivals.

At Iraklio Airport on Crete, for example, there were 12 percent more arrivals in July than the same month last year. The statistics point to a rise in visitors from all the key countries for the tourism sector: Germany, the UK, France and Russia. On Sunday, July 17, the number of arrivals at Iraklio hit a peak of some 52,000.

On Corfu, there was a 13.5 percent increase in the amount of people arriving from abroad.

Also, the regional governor of the Southern Aegean, Giorgos Hatzimarkos, said there was a 10.6 percent rise in the number of arrivals on Rhodes last month.

Hatzimarkos attributed that to a promotion campaign the regional authority launched in January. He said the tourism sector had a number of obstacles to overcome this year, including the refugee crisis, capital controls, higher taxes and concerns about the impact from the instability in Turkey.

The preliminary figures for arrivals by road also point to an increase in the number of people visiting Greece in July. They appear to have risen by 1 percent.

According to a study published by SETE earlier this week, the tourism association forecasts that Greece could earn 18.5 billion euros in revenues from tourism in 2021, compared to the 13.7 billion it raked in last year. It believes the number of annual arrivals could rise to as many as 34.8 million in 2021 from 26.1 million last year.

The sector is also expected to see investment rise to 1 billion euros five years from now, compared to around 200 million euros in 2015.

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