ATHENS: Greece's tourism industry was less affected by the economic crisis than previously feared, with arrivals and spending falling by 5.9 and 3.4 percent between January and August, the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
Tourism experts and local media had painted a much bleaker picture for the industry in the spring, based on visitor fears of a political and social crisis in Greece as well as speculation on the country's possible exit from the eurozone.
August, the peak of the tourist season in Greece, even saw a 2.9 percent increase in spending by non-residents compared to the same month a year earlier, despite a 2.5 percent dip in tourist arrivals.
This corresponds to 2.498 billion euros ($3.3 billion).
As a result, the current account, negative in August 2010 and 2011, made a surplus of 1.6 billion euros for August this year, compared to a deficit of 102.8 million last year.
Austerity has taken its toll on Greek tourists though, with expenses by resident Greeks abroad in August marking a 44.2 percent drop to 188.8 million euros.
Tourism is one of the pillars of Greek economy. Foreign travellers brought in about 7.46 billion euros over the first eight months of 2012.