November 7, 2018 / 4:55 PM / 12 days ago

Surge in visitors to boost Greece's 2018 tourism revenues - minister

Tourists visit the ancient Parthenon temple atop Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek tourism revenues could rise by up to 2 billion euros (1.74 billion pounds) in 2018 due to a surge in visitor numbers, the country’s tourism minister said on Wednesday, projecting a fourth consecutive year of growth for the industry.

Tourism is a big contributor to the Greek economy, accounting for about a quarter of economic output in the country, which is emerging from a long-running debt crisis. The government is expecting strong economic growth following Greece’s exit from an international bailout in August.

Tourism receipts came in at 14.6 billion euros ($16.74 billion) last year, according to central bank data.

Arrivals, including cruise shipping, are expected to rise to 33 million tourists this year from 30.2 million visitors in 2017.

“The Greek tourism sector’s performance has exceeded every expectation, hitting a new record for a fourth year,” Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura said at an international travel trade show in London.

“Our aim is to maintain and boost this potential,” she added, according to a statement issued by the tourism ministry.

Greece sees its economy growing by 2.1 percent this year.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou. Editing by Jane Merriman

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