Greece sees rebound after strong tourism season


Visitors explore the former theatre at the ancient archeological site of Epidaurus on July 31, 2012 in Epidaurus, Greece.


Sean Gallup

Good news in Greece is in short supply these days but a strong tourism season has raised hopes for an escape from the six-year recession.

The country's statistics bureau said Friday that huge tourism revenues had softened the economy's contraction.

According to the statistical authority, the second quarter contraction was 3.8 percent of gross domestic product year-on-year rather than an earlier estimate of 4.8.

Greece's tourism sector accounts for about 15 percent of GDP and about one in five jobs in the country.

It is estimated that about 17 million people visited Greece this year, a sharp rise from 16 million last year.

In addition, the Bank of Greece said that in the year before May 2013, tourism revenue jumped 38.5 percent and foreign arrivals increased by 24 percent.

Fewer protests and visible unrest have likely convinced tourists to return to the Mediterranean country in the last year.

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The numbers also show a strong improvement on the country's external trade deficit.

The positive - or less negative - numbers will provide a boost to the Conservative government of Antonis Samaras who is facing criticism by the so-called 'troika' for not doing enough to balance the books.

Greece's austerity program continues as the European Union and International Monetary Fund provide loans in exchange for massive cuts in welfare and other government expenditures.

The cuts have pushed unemployment to record highs and sent young Greeks migrating abroad for employment opportunities.