Arrivals to Greece during the first half of this year proved to be on a scale expected by local analysts. Arrivals to the Dodecanese resort island of Rodos, from Athens, rose by 32% to 277,308 in the first six months of the year, compared with 1999, the Civil Aviation Authority reports.
Rodos is the busiest airport in Greece after Athens and Iraklio on Crete. Some suggest that if more flights to the island were scheduled, the increase in arrivals could reach 100%.
Although the increase for January-June did include voters in the April general elections, the figure for domestic travellers is seen as stable. It is therefore expected that the number of arrivals will rise further in the second half of the year due to an increase in tourist traffic.
And despite a recent rise in prices, fares remain competitively priced compared with other modes of transport if one considers the quality of service offered and the reduced travel time.
State-run carrier Olympic Airways has the lion’s share of the market with 52%, though last year during the same period the figure stood at 76%.
In the first half of 2000, the market was divided up between OA with 150,821 passengers (54%), Aegean with 65,026 (23%) and Cronus with 61,461 (22%).
Tourism traffic at Iraklio airport on Crete showed a dramatic increase from the very start of August as the number of visitors to the island appears to rise by the day.
The boost is also attributed to the growing number of Cretan residents who choose to visit another part of Greece for their annual vacation.
According to a report in the Cretan newspaper Patris, between August 1 and 7 a total of 111,017 travellers arrived in Iraklio by sea and air while 92,331 departed. This represents a significant increase compared to the same period in 1999, particularly at the airport. A total of 76,968 individuals arrived on charter flights from abroad in the first week of August while 74,406 departed.
Tourism is Greece’s biggest industry, contributing an estimated 15% of gross domestic product and more than $8 billion yearly in foreign exchange.The tourist industry is Greece’s largest employer by a wide margin, although the season lasts only six months in most regions.
Government policy focuses on promoting year-round tourism and improving revenues by providing more facilities for high-spending visitors.
Assets owned by the state-controlled Hellenic Tourist Organization (http://www.gnto.gr/) are being offered to international investors for development on long leases. Promoting marine tourism is also a priority, under a scheme to create a chain of marinas and yacht anchorages across the Aegean islands.