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Optimistic Forecasts For Greek Tourism

Greece may see a double-digit growth in tourist arrivals this year, according to a Reuters report based on data from Europe’s biggest tour operator TUI Travel.

According to TUI, the impressive increase in bookings is a result of the turmoil in North Africa in combination with the low prices offered by Greece.

TUI group spokesperson, Alexa Huner, told the media that although initially bookings to Greece for the 2011 summer season were low (package tour offers began last November), a more positive sign for the country was noticed since last month.

Furthermore, British travel group giant Thomas Cook also told the press last month that UK bookings for holidays in Greece presented an annual increase of some 20 percent.

It would seem that Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis was on track with the predictions he made recently to the Greek press when he said that 2011 would be better than last year in terms of arrivals and revenue.

The deputy minister said Greek tourism revenues were likely to recover this year after two consecutive years of decline given a rise in early bookings in January from most of the country’s main markets.

Speaking to Reuters last month, Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers President Andreas Andreadis said the federation expects “a high single-digit or a low double-digit” percentage in arrivals.

Mr. Andreadis told the press that early bookings from the UK had increased over last year while Russia, France and Italy were also interested in Greece.

On the other hand, Professor Dionysis Hionis, director of the Research Institute for Tourism and Forecasts (ITEP) seemed somewhat reserved when making predictions for the course of Greek tourism in 2011 as he said it was still “too early.”

ITEP’s director, however, did mention to the press that a 4.5 percent increase in tourism revenue -that represents a one percent increase in the country’s GDP- is forecast for 2011.

Mr. Hionis said that the unrest in Egypt was likely to boost tourism in Greece.

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