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Crete - still on the map of European tourism
The largest island of Greece seems to be in a very good shape after the critical period of 2010-12. After 2013 Crete notified an 18% increase in international airport arrivals and an 15% growth in tourism revenue.
First of all tourist attractions include the archaeological sites of the Minoan civilisation – the oldest in Europe - with the ruins of the Palace of Knossos. Not so old although still impressive are Venetian old city and port of Chania, Venetian castle at Rethymno and other sites from that period of history. Different kind of atractions are offered by the Gorge of Samaria, the islands of Chrysi, Elafonisi, Gramvousa, and Spinalonga. One of most valuable assets is thatCrete has a coastline of over 1,000 km and 98 blue flag awarded beaches. It is also extremely mountainous.
The island experienced somee setback recorded in tourism statistics during years 2010-12. But in 2013 Crete recovered dynamically, as the destination experienced an 18% increase in international airport arrivals and an estimated growth of 15% in tourism revenue.
It may be considered as a part of wider all-country process, as European travelers return to the country which suffered six years of recession. But it seems that Crete’s hotel market showed some resilience to the crisis in Greece, with relatively steady occupancy levels and average room charges during 2010-12. Over the period of last seven years (five- and four-star) hotel room supply in Crete recorded significant increase as hotel investment activity remained intensive.
We can expect further growth in Crete's touristic attractivness as it already has a potential and it develops its infrastructure. The island has three major airports, Nikos Kazantzakis in Heraklion, the Daskalogiannis airport in Chania and a smaller one in Sitia. The first two serve international routes as the main gateways for travellers to the island. Other options of communication with the mainland are being provided by its six ports. In April 2013, Ryanair proceeded in opening its first Greek base (55th base) at Chania with one operating aircraft and increased its connecting routes by 10 (26 in total) to/from Billund, Bremen, Bristol, Eindhoven, Katowice, Memmingen, Thessaloniki, Venice, Vilnius, and Warsaw. Ryanair intends to invest a reported amount of over $70 million at Chania Airport in the medium-term.
Long-term tourism targets are also based on assumptions of political and macroeconomical improvements in the country. Forecasts show 2014 will be another record year
Jack Przybylo, www.bestsunholidays.co.uk