Hope is in the air

The 2013 tourist season is now well under way and all the signs are looking good. Despite Greece now being in its 5th year of recession (with catastrophic results for a significant part of the population) there was no social explosion last winter and therefore no (or only few) negative headlines in the international press to scare off potential visitors.

I don’t quite believe some of the headlines in the Greek press about a huge increase in foreign visitors and think that there is an element of propaganda in them designed to give people some hope after years of bad news.  But the fact is that after a poor April (nothing out of the ordinary though, April is often a slack first month of the tourist season) things are picking up really nicely. Everyone I talked to (in Crete) is seeing an increase over last year’s bookings (and last year was not a bad year in the Chania region).

Ryanair destinations mapAdditionally the fact that Ryanair is now using Chania airport as a hub is really good news for small businesses: the clients of Ryanair are overwhelmingly independent travellers who will spend money here and not leave most of it in the pockets of large tour operators.

This will hopefully counterbalance the rise in “All inclusive” resorts which do almost nothing for the local economy.

At the moment the optimism is cautious: punitive taxation, continuing rise in unemployment and lack of trust in the government (or any politicians for that matter) are nothing to feel good about. But any glimpse of hope will feel like a huge breath of fresh air to anyone who has been through the economic meltdown that Greece went through.

 

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2 Responses to Hope is in the air

  1. Yorgos says:

    Another negative aspect of this growth in tourism in Crete (and other Greek destinations) is the ever increasing visit by large cruise ships. While in Crete for 9 days earlier this month I noticed the morning arrival of these monstrous cruise ships with more than 2000 passengers each disgorging many of them on tour buses for an eight hour tour / visit to locations around Crete and back for evening dinner and sail to the next destination. How much benefit does the local tourism industry gets from this type of operation?

    That’s why arrival statistics are not a reliable indicator of how well the local industry is doing. Let’s hope that we will see an increase in overnight stays, especially by independent travelers, away from this other problem sector, the “all inclusive” stay.

    • Jean says:

      When the first large cruise ships (Royal Caribbean) were announced in Chania 3 years ago there was a lot of hope that the many visitors (up to 5000 passengers per ship) were going to boost local economy, especially shops. In the end (and after 3 years of almost weekly cruise arrivals) none of the shop owners I talked to saw any benefit from them. Zero.

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