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Ministry Announces Initial 2008 Tourism Data

Prior to an agreement between state tourism officials and the private tourism sector, Geece’s tourism ministry expressed its satisfaction with this year’s tourism figures.

It underlined that despite the unfavorable international economic climate Greek tourism showed an upward trend in new markets when compared with 2007 – a record year for Greece.

Tourism Minister Aris Spiliotopoulos said that, based on figures released by the Greek National Statistical Service, tourist traffic escalated three percent for the January-June 2008 period.

In regards to a report on European tourism, published by the Financial Times on 22 August, Mr. Spiliotopoulos concluded that Greece is among the winners in the global tourism market.

“The data from the Bank of Greece show an 8.5 percent increase in travel receipts from tourism during the first six months of 2008,” he said.

The minister said that tourist arrivals from Russia, Romania, Poland and Bulgaria exceeded one million visitors so far this year, with tourist arrivals from Russia up more than 40 percent compared with 2007.

Cruise vessels that arrived at Greek destinations increased by more than 10 percent this year, and the increase in sea tourism rose 10 percent.

According to the Financial Times report, Spain, the second most popular destination in the world after the U.S., noted an annual fall of approximately eight percent of foreign arrivals in July. The number of visitors from the UK, Spain’s most important feeder, fell by 3.1 percent year-on-year to 1.92 million in July.

In Italy, a six percent reduction of tourist traffic was recorded in hotel occupancy and in Germany hotel and restaurant revenues in June were two percent lower than the same month last year.

Finally, the tourist market of Croatia recorded a downfall in tourist traffic for July and August.

Greece, however, kept its arrival figures for July at the same level for the same month last year.

As for domestic tourism in Greece, according to the tourism minister, Greek citizens did not prefer to vacation overseas. There was, however, a reduction of the holiday duration of travelers—a development expected due to the economic crisis.

Mr. Spiliotopoulos also highlighted that part of this year’s tourism increase is divided among the high socio-economic class and the subsequent lower socio-economic class. This effect is explained by the means of transportation that Greeks chose to reach a destination.

As a result there was a four percent reduction in air travel and a six percent drop in ship travel as preferences shifted towards cheaper means of transport such as train or car.

In addition, changes were recorded in the type of residence Greek tourists prefered with a clear preference to privately-owned summer houses.

Similarly, a five percent drop was noted in regards to holiday weekends throughout the summer.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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