Last-minute vacationers are offsetting losses recorded in the first summer months of the year with the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) indicating a 9 percent rise in the number of arrivals in July at regional airports and a 9.6 percent increase at Athens International Airport (AIA).
According to data announced by SETE on Thursday, incoming traffic in the first seven months of the year (January-July) increased by 6.7 percent at regional airports and 5.6 percent at AIA.
Road arrivals, meanwhile, also grew in July by 1.6 percent but declined by 4.8 percent or 307,000 travelers in the first seven months of the year.
The increase in the number of air arrivals in the first seven months of 2016 up by 556,000 travelers offset the major decrease in arrivals to the islands receiving massive refugee flows: Lesvos down by 62.7 percent, Samos by 29.7 percent and Kos by 15.9 percent.
Despite the overall difficulties, SETE noted that “in an unstable international environment, last-minute bookings can offer Greek tourism a boost, but with reduced tourist spending”.
Meanwhile, according to recent data released by the Bank of Greece, a 1.6 percent drop in arrivals to the country was recorded during the first half of the year, accompanied by a decrease in revenue by 5.8 percent.
“These reductions are due to a combination of factors, such as Greece’s share loss in traditional markets during the first months of the year, the reduction of vacation days and spending due to terrorist attacks and international instability”, SETE said.
Citing data from the government operated ERGANI system, SETE underlined the importance of tourism to the Greek economy and society.
According to the data referring to the January-July 2016 period, paid employment in Greece recorded an increase of 82.8 percent for the whole economy due to tourism (33.6 percent in the catering/restaurant sector, 49.1 percent in hotel sector).