NEWS

The tourism industry’s four best customers

Americans, Germans, Britons and the French form the majority of the tourist population visiting Greece every year, according to Athens International Airport figures that show Americans comprise the high end of the market, although there are more Britons and Germans on an annual basis. French visitors tend to seek quality holidays. These are just some of the trends observed in surveys of passengers passing through Athens’s Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in the first half of this year. Compared with the same period last year, there was a slight decrease in the number of British arrivals, although the greatest number arrive in the second half of the year. British arrivals Between January and June this year, there were 69,641 British arrivals, down from 74,789 in the same period last year. Over a third of them are aged 25-34; 21 percent are aged 55-64. Around 80 percent of them are university graduates and over half (55 percent) are London residents. Their average length of stay in Greece is 11 days, of which about five are spent in Athens. About a quarter fly on to Rhodes, followed by Iraklion on the island of Crete (13 percent), Santorini (11 percent) and Myconos (10 percent), followed by Corfu and Kos. Most Britons book their holidays through a travel agent and a quarter opt for a package deal. Another 12 percent book over the Internet and just 4 percent directly through the airline. On average, they make their travel arrangements about a month in advance. Germans, French On the other hand, the number of arrivals from France is on the increase, from 40,390 last year to 69,838 this year. As with the Germans, the largest age group is aged 55-64, followed by the 25-34 year-olds. Nearly half are residents of Paris. In contrast to the other groups, nearly half of the French visitors opt for package tours and book an average six weeks ahead of their trip. Arrivals from Germany were also fewer this year, down to 71,219 from 78,724 last year, which was 20 percent higher than in 2004. Nearly a third are aged 55-64 and 22 percent are 25-343 years of age. Like the British, most (79 percent) have completed tertiary education. The majority of German tourists in Greece come from Munich; their average length of stay is eight days, four of those are usually spent in Athens. Again, Iraklion, Rhodes, Santorini and Corfu are the most popular island destinations. Americans The most impressive increase, however, has been in the number of arrivals from the USA, which skyrocketed in the first half of this year to 155,853 from just 21,083 in the same period last year, an amazing 630 percent. There are fewer college graduates among Greek Americans (just 37 percent) than among their West European counterparts or among other Americans. The overwhelming majority come from New York, followed by Chicago, Boston, Washington, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, San Francisco and Phoenix. Most American visitors are here on vacation, usually staying for about 18 days; Greek Americans combine holidays with visits to family and friends, and stay longer – an average 40 days, half of that time in Athens.