Tourism Arrivals, Revenues Spike Big in Greece, New Record Year Seen

FILE - Young Tourists from Spain make selfies at Philopappos hill, as at the background stands the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple, in Athens, on Friday, April 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Greece’s biggest revenue engine – tourism – is on course to be a saving grace again in 2018 as international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($382.43 billion) will end in August, expected to be a boom summer season.

Revenues in the first quarter of the year, traditionally a slow time during the winter and beginning of spring, surged 14 percent while arrivals jumped 13.8 percent, showing a continued run of unprecedented interest in visiting the country despite an eight-year-long economic and austerity crisis.

The figures also showed, unlike the last two years when arrivals soared, that tourists this time are spending more than before. Arrivals this year are expected to jump to 32.5 million people, a 2.4 million increase from 2017.

Tourism brings in about 18 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product of 166.42 billion euros ($194.6 billion) or some 29.95 billion euros ($35.02 billion), essential monies during a crisis which has seen the standard of living of Greeks fall precipitously.

In March alone the increase in tourism takings amounted to 28.2 percent on annual basis, the report said, another harbinger that 2018 could be a banner year barring unforseeable circumstances such as protracted anti-austerity strikes that marred previous years.

The figures showed the first quarter of the year brought in 557 million euros ($651.31 million) mostly due to 18.9 percent in spending by European Union visitors, driven by the British and Germans.