The first signs for Cretan tourism this year are positive, according to the survey carried out by the Western Crete Tourism Observatory in coordination with the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, the University of Crete and the Chania Hoteliers Association.
The survey was conducted at the airport of Chania (Daskalogiannis) until the end of June, based on 1500 questionnaires translated into 7 languages.
Between January-June 2016, 369,000 arrivals were revorded, a significant increase of 8.4% compared to the respective prior-year period. All major nationalities participated in this increase except Danes, who reduced their arrivals by 4%, as seen in the table below:
This upward trend is mainly due to the strong presence of low-cost airline, “Ryanair” that flies in almost 30% of total passengers.It is also noteworthy that nine out of ten passengers originate from non-Nordic countries, thus changing the mix of tourists who choose the airport as final destination
At Heraklion airport, where 65% of arrivals consists of German, British, French and Russians, there is also a significant increase in total foreign arrivals by 11% with Russians leading by 42%. This is considered very encouraging, if one takes into account the large drop that was recorded during the last two years at Heraklion airport with subsequent losses to the local economy, especially since Russian tourists have a relatively high income profile.
During the first half of 2016, Crete scored a 10.3% rise in arrivals of foreign tourists, which is higher than the average increase nationwide, according to the latest figures of the Tourism Confederation (SETE) of 4.9%. An Important role in shaping this small rate of increase, was played by the immigration/refugee crisis that affected negatively the arrivals of foreign tourists in the islands of the Eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and notably, Samos and Kos, where there have been large declines in 63%, 39% and 18%, respectively.
The 43.846 cruise passenger arrivals at the port of Souda Bay that represent an 80% increase compared to last year’s H1 are also encouraging.
Cruise ship arrivals at Heraklion port also rose by 34% during the first half of the year 2016, compared with the corresponding period last year, reaching 98.675 passengers.
Tourists who prefer Hania airport as a destination for their holidays, are aged between 25-64 years, have a high educational level and average income above EUR 60,000. Six out of ten tourists have visited again Western Crete, while nine out of ten foreign tourists declare not only that we will revisit the destination, but will also strongly recommend it to relatives and friends. When asked to characterize Western Crete as a holiday destination, most answered that it is a family destination for relaxing, enjoying the beaches/sea, in a very friendly and warm environment, shaped by Cretan hospitality and their relationship with the local residents.
The vast majority lives in the surrounding areas of Agia Marina, Platanias of Chania averaging between 8-9 days, depending on nationality, and seek to upgrade their class hotel class.
Two out of three vacation as a family with or without children. Families without children differ in terms of their stay, since a large proportion prefers rooms/studios and spend more than average, per person. Instead, families, even though they appear with big incomes, prefer all inclusive hotels and as a result spend less. About 9% of foreign tourists used AirBnB to book hotel accommodation, many more than last year, while for properties located in areas of Kissamos, Paleochora and within the municipality of Chania, there seem to be even more bookings from tourists through AirBnB.
Regarding their transportation, foreign tourists mainly use rental cars with an average use of 8 days, more compared to last season, while they express great satisfaction in using buses and taxis for their tours.
Most popular destinations for foreign tourists this year are archaeological sites, museums and monasteries, surpassing for the first time Elafonisi after 5 years of domination. Tourists also tend to prefer Balos beach than Falasarna.
Foreign visitors feel extremely satisfied from accommodation, catering and the behavior of the locals. They continue to feel troubled about the cleanliness of the beaches, the road network and signs. The final degree of dissatisfaction will be recorded upon completion of the survey at the end of the season.
Regarding the purchase of local agricultural products, wine, orange juice, olive oil and local cheeses continue this year to be favored by foreign tourists. Culinary tourism, agro-tourism and cultural tourism, such as visits to museums, churches and archaeological sites are the predominant alternative forms of tourism that are chosen more by guests of Central and Northern Europe, while maritime tourism seems to have high impact on Nordic tourists.
Apart from the costs of airfare and accommodation, eight out of ten tourists spend most of their budgets in restaurants cafes and supermarkets, and a very small percentage on nightlife.
The survey will be continued in Samaria National Park and the Ancient City of Aptera and the results will be published by the end of the season.
Authoring and analysis group:
- Dr. George Mpaourakis (Director of MAICH)
- George Aggelakis (Researcher MAICH)
- Prof. Constantin Zopounidis (Technical University of Crete – Audencia Nantes School of Management)
- Periklis Drakos (E.D.I.P. University of Crete)
- Assist. Prof. George Atsalakis (Technical University Of Crete)