The National Park of Samaria has just closed for the season 2015 and visitors statistics are out. It seems that the recovery in the number of visitors to the gorge of Samaria suffered a small setback this year. The visitors statistics covering the last 35 years make for some interesting reading:
The main thing that you notice is that there are even less visitors today as there were in 1981, even though there were far fewer people visiting Crete (there are 5 to 6 times more tourists visiting Crete now than there were in 1981)
Note the steady increase over a period of 10 years to reach the peaks of the early 1990s: that’s easily explained because visitors to Crete also increased substantially. But then follows a long drop of over 50% even though numbers of tourists keep increasing (maybe not every single year but over the period it definitely increases).
Essentially it means that walking in the gorge of Samaria has become FAR less attractive to today’s average tourist than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Why is that? Here are a few thoughts that may explain why a walk through the gorge of Samaria has lost so much in popularity.
- High cost: the entrance fee of the national park has remained at 5 Euro for over 10 years but if you add it to the cost of ferry tickets needed to get back to the road head (which have gone up a lot recently) and the cost of the bus journeys involved, a trip to the gorge of Samaria can easily cost 30 to 50 Euro per person depending on where you are starting from. Tourists possibly have less disposable income than they did 10 or 20 years ago.
- Too busy: despite visitors numbers having dropped so much Samaria has maintained its old reputation for being very overcrowded which is off putting for many people.
- Less interest in organized tours: far more people rent cars than they did 20 years ago. If you have a car you might lose interest in organized tours – and ‘doing’ Samaria with a rented car can present logistical problems.
- Less interest in walking: could tourists coming to Crete have less interest in walking than before? I don’t think so but maybe a lot more people who come to Crete are not at all interested in visiting Crete but instead just want to go to some resort in the sun where they can spend their holiday by the beach.
- Been there done it: many people who keep returning to Crete have done the walk through the gorge and are not interested in doing it again.
If you can think of some other reasons please note them in the comments.