Greek tourism is gaining ground on the global market. Mastercard data shows that travelers to Athens are expected to spend a total of 1.9 billion US dollars or 1.4 billion euros – up 27% from last year. The increase in travelers to the Greek capital this year will be up by 17.8% compared to 2014 with a total of 1.9 million visitors expected to arrive to the historical capital of Europe. Furthermore, the national background of tourists to the Greek capital is changing from traditional West Europeans with their cautious spending to more travelers from China, Russia, the Middle East and from Turkey who typically spend more at department stores, especially those on Voukourestiou Street and in the up-market Kolonaki district.
Chinese and Russians are currently moving the markets around the capitals of the world and were considered the champions of tax-free shopping in 2014 according to data by Global Blue. Chinese travelers splurged the most on tax-free shopping for 27 percent of spending whereas Russians were the second-biggest spenders with 17 percent.
Athenian figures, however, lag behind capitals that are considered tourist heavyweights, such as London that this year had the same number of visitors as all tourists in Greece combined. According to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, the British capital will draw 18.69 million visitors who are expected to leave behind 19.3 billion US dollars or 14.1 billion euros.