Thousands arrive by road and air

The arrival of holidaymakers from the Balkans and the rest of Southeastern Europe has opened up new prospects for tourism in Greece. Now that the wars are over and nationalist fever has abated, people from those countries have begun to travel again, bringing lifeblood to Greek tourism, which had suffered for a decade. Thousands of Serbs, Russians, Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, Bulgarians, and Albanians are vacationing in northern Greece, and were visas not an impediment, their numbers would be far greater. Organized groups arrive on charter flights from Russia and by coach from Southeastern Europe, helping to fill resort hotels and rented rooms, while residents from neighboring FYROM and Bulgaria drive to Greece on the weekends to cool off on the beaches of Halkidiki and Pieria. The Western Europeans, once the mainstay of Greek tourism from May to September, are gradually starting to drive again through the former republics of Yugoslavia and to stay at campsites, chiefly in Pieria, which suffered the most from the decline in tourism over the past decade. Local vacationers, who filled the gap during that decade, still go to campsites and rented rooms, though for a shorter period compared with foreign tourists, who kept the season going from May to October. Tourism in northern Greece is certainly seeing a recovery from a 10-year decline. The turnaround started in 2000, peaked in 2003 with the EU summit in Halkidiki, and the losses that came last year because of the Olympic Games seem to be compensated for this year by a 5-7 percent rise, which is a promising sign for the future.

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