The biggest increase in arrivals was from Russia
Greek tourism has exceeded 17 million foreign arrivals on an annual basis for the first time ever, without even having to wait for 2013 to end. The record is not expected to last for long, though, as 2014 is promising to be an even better year in terms of holidaymaker numbers. Data released by the Bank of Greece showed that the number of arrivals from abroad grew 15.5 per cent in the first 10 months of the year from the same period in 2012 to reach 17.08 million. According to the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE), the latest estimate for the whole of the calendar year is a total of 17.7 million visitors to Greece. The all-time record for tourism revenues, dating from 2008, is also expected to be broken this year, as revenues (including from cruise tourism) up to the end of October had already come to 11.6 billion euros – just a few million short of the record for the whole of 2008 – posting annual growth of 14.8 per cent. The revenues record will certainly be smashed with the inclusion of the data for the last couple of months of the year. The biggest increase in arrivals in the year to end-October was from Russia (55.2 per cent), as tourists from that country numbered 1.34 million. Arrivals from the US grew 29.2 per cent to reach 434,500, from France the total rose by 18.4 per cent to come to 1.13 million, while from Germany they climbed by 7.6 per cent to 2.2 million. Arrivals from Britain fell 4.6 per cent to 1.8 million. October arrivals reached an all-time record for the 10th month of the year, rising 18.1 per cent from 2012 to reach 1.54 million. All signs point to an even better year in 2014 for tourism both in terms of arrivals and revenues. Bookings via foreign tour operators are up and their representatives are already making estimates for additional growth in arrivals. Furthermore, air carriers have planned for 1 million additional seats to Greece for 2014. The Greek presidency of the European Union in the first half of this year will also add to the country’s positive publicity. Sector professionals said that the only way for the country not to witness a rise in tourism would be a return to political instability. In Cyprus, arrivals from abroad in the first 11 months of the year fell 2.5 per cent on an annual basis to 2.41 million, according to the island’s statistical service.