2012 ended with a new tax-dodging scandal in Greece, involving the highest echelons of the political ruling class. As public opinion clamours for heads to roll we’re definitely headed for interesting times.
On the economic crisis front, there are signs that Greece may have hit bottom and that things are so bad (with unemployment, homelessness, depression and suicide rate at an all times high) that they can only get better from now on .
But pessimists predict that it will get even worse (especially since the predicted end of the world failed to happen).
Cynics make black jokes such as these (roughly translated into English): “The fastest growing chain shops in Greece is ENOIKIAZETE” (you read this ‘For rent’ yellow sign in the windows of all the shops that have closed down).
Another one that I loved: “I entered Happy New Year into Google search and it told me Not available in your country”.
Crete is less affected by the crisis than most other places in Greece so it might be where you will find most optimists. The 2012 tourist season was OK on the island, pretty much on par with the previous years, despite the dire outlook in the first half of the year, so money has been coming in.
And right now things look good for the 2013 tourist season: Greece hasn’t had too much bad press in the last 6 months and there is apparently a lot of interest in Greece as a holiday destination. The number of flights to Chania airport is due to keep increasing (especially with Ryanair opening a new hub here) and as far as I know large cruise ships will keep coming with some regularity to the town (docking at Souda harbour).
How it plays out will of course depend very much on what happens in Athens in the spring on the political and social front. Pictures of rioting don’t make people want to visit. Reports of neo-nazis beating up foreigners are not a big turn on either. News of strikes are even worse: quite understandably, if you are coming for a one week holiday you don’t want to lose a day of it to a strike. The fear of strikes kept many people away from Greece in 2012. Many Cretans (and most Greeks earning a living from tourism) are praying for a quiet spring. That’s far from likely.