updated 4/18/2007 10:20:33 AM ET 2007-04-18T14:20:33

The sinking of a cruise ship off the island of Santorini and the resulting oil spill is not expected to dampen strong holiday bookings expected for Greece this summer, the head of a world tourism body said.

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Two French tourists are missing and believed drowned after the Sea Diamond cruise ship struck rocks on April 5, but nearly 1,600 people were rescued, including hundreds of Americans and groups from Canada, Britain, Australia, France and Spain.

"The crisis was handled with dignity and handled very well," said Jean-Claude Baumgarten, President World Travel and Tourism Council, or WTTC, a London-based industry body. "It is something which will have no long-term, medium or even short-term effect of bookings in Greece."

Baumgarten's remarks were made Tuesday after meeting Greece's Tourism Minister Fanny Palli Petralia, and were carried on state-run television Wednesday.

Sea Diamond operator Louis Cruise Lines has submitted a plan to the government to pump fuel from the ship's leaking hull, but work has not yet started.

Yiannis Evangelou, head of Greece's association of travel and tourist agencies, said his agency had not changed predictions that 1.2 million visitors would travel on cruises in Greece this year — a 20 percent increase from last year — with 900,000 of them stopping at Santorini.

The WTTC is predicting a 4 percent increase in tourism-generated in Greece in 2007, or $53.93 billion of economic activity.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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