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).
Additionally 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.