Despite the economic crisis, the number of Greeks traveling abroad during the Christmas and New Year holiday period rose this year, with Italy and Germany ranking among the favored destinations. According to initial estimates from Athens International Airport, the number of Greeks who traveled abroad for recreational purposes during December reached 200,000, rising 3 percent over the same month a year earlier. Italy was the most popular destination, with 9.5 percent of travelers heading to the neighboring country for their holiday break, while another 8.6 percent and 7.3 percent of Greeks visited Germany and Britain, respectively. Next on the list came France, which drew 6.9 percent of travelers departing from Athens, while another 5.2 percent went to Austria. Industry sources said that this year’s mild winter resulted in a larger number of ski lovers heading abroad in search of snow, while others headed to European capital cities to take advantage of winter sales. Greece’s two largest airlines, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines, were also pleased with the increase in passenger numbers they recorded over the winter holiday period. Aegean Airline’s most popular destinations were London and Paris, according to sources, which added that the airline put on extra flights for cities such as Vienna and Prague. It’s rival Olympic Air saw double-digit growth in passenger numbers traveling to European destinations as compared to last year’s levels.