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Sunny outlook for Greek tourism industry

Sunny outlook for Greek tourism industry
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Spending by visitors to Greece jumped in June, the first month of its busy summer holiday season.

Tourism receipts were up by 21 percent from the same month last year at 1.59 billion euros.

That confirms forecasts that a record summer season could give the debt-laden country a welcome injection of foreign cash.

With domestic spending, investment and industrial production all in an austerity-driven slump, foreign visitors are the only growth driver for Greece’s economy, which is expected to shrink 4.2 percent this year.

There has been a surge particularly in visitors from Russia and Turkey, both of which spend, on average more than tourists from other countries. The numbers have also been helped by visitors staying longer as well.

Hotels, restaurants and tourism businesses have slashed prices and upgraded services to weather the crisis and lure more visitors.

As a result of surging tourism receipts, Greece’s current account surplus widened in June to 663 million euros from 73.1 million euros in the same month last year, the Bank of Greece said.

Total tourism receipts in the first half of the year were 3.32 billion euros, the central bank said. That was up 18 percent compared with the same period last year, when fears of Greece leaving the eurozone kept tourists away.