October Brings Post-Summer Tourism Boom for Greece

FILE - Tourists take photographs at the Herod Atticus theater and Parthenon temple atop of Acropolis hill during a three-hour work stoppage in Athens, Thursday, July 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS – Already on course for a record tourism season – the spending levels aren’t certain yet though – the month of October saw more than 620,000 visit Greece, a promising number as the country hopes to attract people past the peak summer time.

But many opted for short-term rentals such as Airbnb, worrying hotel owners who squeezed Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to propose legislation that would whack property owners with taxes up to 45 percent, a move critics said was designed to get support from the hotel lobby as his popularity plummets for reneging on anti-austerity promises.

Athens International Airport data showed that arrivals from abroad increased by 14 percent from October 2016 to 1.35 million, following the 9.8 percent rise in September arrivals to 1.54 million. In total, international arrivals at Athens came to 12.47 million in January-October, posting an annual increase of 11.8 percent, Kathimerini said.

The 14 regional airports managed by Fraport Greece – who said they found many of them neglected by state workers before the privatization took place – also reported a 15.9 percent year-on-year jump in arrivals from abroad to 1.76 million. Since the start of the year arrivals have reached 20.1 million, up by 13 percent from a year earlier.

But while there was a rise in occupancy rates it was nowhere near the pace recorded in arrivals, even when the estimated number of Greeks returning from abroad is deducted.