Tourism figures for 2002-2007
In a few days the tourist season will officially be over, leaving people professionally involved in Cretan tourism with mixed feelings. The figures for tourism in Crete during the months of September and October 2007 are certainly low.
According to these, Chania Prefecture came out best, with a 20% rise in arrivals from Scandinavia. Domestic tourism indexes are also very healthy, with Chania being the most popular destination for Greek tourists over the past five years. The big surprise was the dramatic rise in tourists from Russia, Cyprus, Lithuania and Slovenia.
On the other hand, the influx from countries such as Britain and Germany, which supported Greek tourism until recently, was disappointing. The German market has fallen steadily since 2002, dropping by 30%. There was a 20% drop in British tourists in the same period.
At the other end of the scale, although they do not counterbalance the loss of British and German tourists, are the surprise markets like Russia (20% rise), Cyprus (64%), Lithuania (74%) and Slovenia (55%). The constant for Crete this season was the tourist flow from Middle European countries, with levels remaining stable compared to last year. Austria showed a rise of 3%, while Netherlands tourism rose by 4%, and French, Belgian and Israeli tourists all increased by 1%.
At the same time, there is an impressive rise in the tourism of competing countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia. In a change which bodes ill for the future, they seem to be absorbing the German and British tourists lost from Greece and Crete.
The Chairman of the Tour Operators’ Association Mr Manolis Papakaliatis blames this drop in tourism in Crete, and Heraklion in particular, to a lack of basic infrastructure. As he stated, “We have a huge problem with infrastructure services, which the state should take measures to cover. More specifically, the state of Heraklion airport has made us an international laughing-stock”.
Cretan tourism in October 2007
Hotel owners say this may have been the worst October for tourism in the last decade, with Cretan hotels recording an average occupancy rate of just 40-50%. Mr Vassilis Fragoulakis, Secretary of the Hotel Directors’ Association, said that while Crete package tours are popular, foreign tour operators have cut charter flights, so there are no seats left. This means that people choose other holiday destinations such as Egypt and Turkey, where tourism is impressively high this month and hotels are particularly full.
It should be noted that a German tourist who comes to Crete for a week’s holiday during this period will pay about 500-600 euros for an all-inclusive package at a four-star hotel. Prices for a similar holiday in Turkey and Egypt are about 300 and 400 euros respectively.
The tourist season in Crete closes at the end of October, along with almost all the hotels.