Tourism boosted by 8 pct this year

Tourism arrivals will rise by at least 8 percent this year, according to the Institute for Tourism Research and Forecasts (ITEP), which noted a 60 percent increase in incoming flights this month compared to the same period in 2004. Crete and the Dodecanese Islands were the most popular destinations, ITEP revealed ahead of today’s World Tourism Day. The Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises highlighted the dependence of the tourism sector upon air travel, noting that more than 80 percent of foreign visitors arrive in Greece by plane. It also grasped the opportunity to criticize state carrier Olympic Airlines for «poisoning free competition by systematically undermining all private initiatives via unfair means.» Also yesterday, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos discussed measures aimed at boosting infrastructure for sea tourism activities such as cruises and sailing. Kefaloyiannis said an initiative was under way to develop a network of marinas connecting the country’s islands. Avramopoulos’s deputy, Anastassios Liaskos, revealed a series of measures aimed at developing sports tourism, encouraging more visitors to engage in sporting activities in Greece. Meanwhile, more Greeks are reportedly opting to take their own holidays within their native borders, according to ITEP, which said that a summer media campaign had been extremely successful.