After six years in the economic doldrums, Greece’s tourism industry is once again on the up.
The number of tourists flying into Greece soared by 17.1 percent during the period from January to June, compared with the same period last year, according to the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE).
The biggest surge has been in the capital Athens, where air arrivals increased more than 30 percent during the first half of 2014 (year-on-year).
Greece’s economic and political woes, as well as concerns about social unrest, had been keeping holidaymakers away.
Andreas Andreadis, President of the Greek Tourism Confederation, said the rebounding tourism sector in the capital was, “very good news for a city [Athens] that is really beautiful but suffered a lot because of the demonstrations, because of the problems, you know, with security and so on, the bad image of the city.”
Hotel owners and restauranteurs in tourism spots have been slashing their prices to lure back holidaymakers.
“I think the hotels are decent value and the restaurants are an excellent value,” said American tourist David Abaramovic.
“It was not a good thing to see a crisis going on in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. Yes there were a lot of monetary reasons but this is nothing to do with the people or the country itself,” opined Dutch holidaymaker Peter Maijderwijk.
If those holidaymakers keep coming, 2014 is set to be the best year for Greek tourism since before the crisis.
The European Commission forecasts 0.6 percent GDP growth for the Greek economy as a whole this year, a long-awaited turnaround after six years of recession.