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Greece: Despite refugee crisis, tourism is thriving

 

Greece is expecting a bumper crop of sun-seeking tourists in 2017, according to the tourism minister, helped largely by the continuing popularity of Greece with British holiday travelers. This past summer has seen many reports of drops in numbers, especially on the islands closest to Turkey.

Any drop is a big issue for Greece, whose economy has become increasingly dependent on tourism. The country has both benefited and been hurt by the continuing instability of the Middle East.

On the one hand, it has seen more European travelers who in other years would have gone to Turkey, Tunisia or Egypt; on the other, it has constantly been in the news with stories of the thousands of refugees from Syria and other areas who have used Greece's islands as a way toward safety in Europe.

The tourism minister, backed by a number of tour operators, says there was an early summer drop in bookings, but that by later in the season numbers were back to normal. They blame the drop on the perception that the islands were overcrowded with refugees, but most refugees spend only a short time on the islands before moving on, they said.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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