ATHENS, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Tourism, a traditionally strong pillar of Greece's economy, holds a decisive role in the country's efforts to recover from the current debt crisis, Greek newspaper "Kathimerini" (Daily) reported on Sunday, citing a survey carried out by local Alpha Bank.
According to the latest central Bank of Greece data released last week the number of arrivals as well as tourism revenue are on the rise this year.
The first six months of 2017 saw a 6.6 percent increase in foreign arrivals compared with the same period of 2016 (7.9 million this year up from 7.5 million in the same period last year).
Tourism revenue increased by 7.1 percent in the first half of the year compared with 2016, hitting 4.1 billion euros (4.9 billion U.S. dollars).
According to the Alpha Bank analysis which also cites World Travel and Tourism Council projections, the Greek tourism sector accounted for 18.6 percent of Greek GDP last year.
Tourism's contribution to Greece's GDP is expected to grow to 19.6 percent this year and more than 20 percent in 2018, according to the experts.
In 2012 Greece recorded 16.9 million arrivals and 10.4 million euros in revenues, while last year the country welcomed 28 million foreign visitors generating expenditure of 13.2 billion euros.
According to Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) estimates Greece will attract more than 30 million tourists this year and revenue will exceed 14.5 billion euros, setting a new record.
The surge in arrivals and receipts is attributed by officials and representatives of the sector to a series of factors, the Alpha Bank survey noted. These factors include measures taken in recent years to make the Greek tourism product more competitive and changes to visa issuance procedures which facilitate the journey of citizens of countries like Russia or China to Greece. (1 euro= 1.19 US dollars)