Author Topic: Food For Thought  (Read 2349 times)

Offline Stuart & Hilary

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Food For Thought
« on: November 11, 2014, 11:17:49 AM »
Extracts from Yesterday's Daily Telegraph. By Oliver Smith

Are traditional Greek holidays under threat?
Greece plans to attract an additional 9 million tourists annually by 2021 - but what does that mean for the unspoiled island life that lures so many Britons?

The tourist board claimed too that early signs indicate 2015 could be another record year

A record 15.3 million holidaymakers visited Greece in the first eight months of the year, with arrivals from Britain rising 16 per cent, according to the country’s tourist board.
This was a 22 per cent increase on 2013, a year in which Greece had already improved significantly on the losses felt in 2012 following the Arab Spring, receiving a total of 17.9 million arrivals.
The tourist board claimed too that early signs indicate 2015 could be another record year.
And there’s no evidence that the country is resting on its laurels. The Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises recently said it expects at least 27 million to take a holiday in Greece each year by 2021, up from around 18 million in 2013.
Olga Kefalogianni, the Greek minister for tourism, suggested the country’s continuing popularity is down to the value for money it offers to both budget and high-end holidaymakers.

Licenses awarded for new accommodation have risen by up to 150 per cent, with an emphasis on luxury properties. There are also plans to increase the frequency of flights to smaller islands, and even - overambitious, perhaps - talk of a “gastro-taverna” culinary revolution.
Such plans are likely to raise fears that the unspoiled island life that attracts so many Britons to Greece is under threat. For many, it is rustic accommodation and simple cuisine that make the country so alluring.
These worries are unfounded, according to Ms Kefalogianni.
“This is a major consideration for us – our strategy is towards sustainability,” she said. “The natural environment and the culture should be maintained and preserved. This is what brings tourists to Greece.”
Instead, she wants to encourage holidaymakers to visit lesser-known parts of the country, and for Greece to be considered more of a year-round destination.
“We want to expand our offering to new parts of Greece, such as the mountainous area in the north – it’s not just about sea and sun,” she added. “There’s also the recent discovery of ancient artefacts at Amfipolis, which will attract new visitors to that region.”
Thessaloniki is being touted as an alternative city break destination (“a history spanning 2,300 years, a burgeoning food scene and a vibrant nightlife”), and base for exploring Amfipolis, the Halkidiki peninsula and Lake Kerkini, a haven for birdwatching and outdoor activities such as canoeing and riding.
The “beautiful, well preserved” region of Epirus, meanwhile, has also been earmarked. It is “one of the most exciting destinations for adventurous walkers and hikers,” says Ms Kefalogianni, and is bisected by the world’s deepest gorge.
And for those in search of a more recumbent holiday, the Pelion – between Athens and Thessaloniki; the Peloponnese – the southernmost part of mainland Greece; and the Small Cyclades – a sub-group of the Cyclades (which include Santorini and Mykonos), all of which are known for their beaches, are being targeted for growth.
Interest in Greece’s cultural attractions remains strong. Visits to museums leapt 20 per cent between January and June, compared with the same period last year, according to the tourist board. That included a 20 per cent rise in visits to the Acropolis Museum; 14 per cent to the National Archaeological Museum; and 95 per cent to Heraklion Archeological Museum. To further entice classical enthusiasts, there are plans to extend opening hours at dozens of museums and archaeological sites and develop smartphone apps to provide information to visitors.

Offline Mike G

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2014, 01:43:15 PM »
It's difficult to see where all the people to bring about this expansion are going to come from. Eurozone growth is sluggish and will probably remain so for some time and the increased numbers from eastern Europe are already coming.

It has been said several times on this forum (and I agree) that the distance of Plakias from airports probably stops it becoming over commercialised.

Long may Plakias remain as it is!.

Mike

Offline Bertie

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2014, 05:16:53 PM »
Hear! Hear!
I've always thought that it's the distance from the airports which means only dedicated Greco files can be bothered to travel to Plakias and other south coast towns. And, there's not enough potential on the south coast to warrant an airport (we hope).

Having said this I'm surprised just how many people do make the journey.

It's just as well tourists don't have to pass through Plakias to reach their accommodation on the north coast, like we travel along the north coast first. Just think of all those people thinking "Oh, I wish we were staying here" instead of "Thank God we're going on to Plakias and not staying here!!".

Offline Richard

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2014, 07:44:09 PM »
Agree totally.

I think that there is an airfield on the south coast but it's military. The idea of a commercial equivalent doesn't bear thinking about.

Your point re 'passing through' is, I think, extremely well made.

My first holiday in Greece was on a small island south of Athens. The other two couples taken to the same place complained about the quiet, but I loved it. A few tavernas, small quiet beach, my first taste of Greece.

The following year, we were taken to Plakias in error, and then taken back to our booked accommodation in Amoudara, which is essentially a suburb of Heraklion with a beach. Tried to make the most of it but wasn't impressed at all. I probably wouldn't have returned to Greece if I had not been taken to Plakias - I liked it, and the south of the island, very much.

Richard

« Last Edit: November 11, 2014, 07:46:40 PM by Richard »

Offline JackieatUrbanAgenda

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2014, 01:53:00 PM »
Hi.....there have been plans to develop the former US base at Tymbaki (near Mires) for some time because of its existing runways but, even after ten years or more, I cant see it happening. Even if it did, the route up to Heraklion and Ag Nik/Malia etc would probably go through the valleys to the west...so there would be limited impact on the route through Spili and the areas around Finikas. have discussed this with Greek friends numerous times.

We've been visiting Plakias since 1987 and have introduced a few people to it and they've all fallen in love with its charm. OK there have been a few changes (I can remember when Hapimag opened) but it is the simplicity people like. Hopefully a huge upturn in tourism suggested by the reports wont have a major impact on Plakias.....can see it boosting the north coast's appeal though.

Offline happyashellas

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2014, 09:01:22 AM »
I think there might be a bit of wishful thinking going on, to some extent. The large vacant plot with the old signs for a "new" development at the far end would seem to say that some developer already owns the land and permission was granted at some point. A quick look at the Greek islands on google earth shows how many of these obnoxious open prisons (all inclusive eyesores) there are. People like Madonna are investing in these projects. She visited an island and loved the place so much she is contributing in it's destruction by building a place she wouldn't be seen dead in, but she'll make a few quid out of it so all is well. Plakias is only a one hour trip from Heraklion, not far by any stretch of the imagination and therefore ripe for the picking as these places go. We love Plakias for what it is, but the change will come, it only remains to see how soon.
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Offline Richard

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2014, 05:29:56 PM »
One hour? In Madonna's helicopter perhaps!

Seriously, I have seen Plakias change slowly over the years and expect it to continue to do so. I am  not sure if there is enough space at the far end for the sort of prison camp that you allude to, though.

The change may well come, as you put it, but to my mind it is far from inevitable on the basis of the available evidence.

Fingers crossed, I suppose.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 05:34:25 PM by Richard »

Offline happyashellas

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2014, 11:03:49 AM »
Got the times wrong as it's more like one and three quarters of an hour, but this is still well below the three hour journeys many people have in Turkey for instance. Plakias will change, that much is inevitable - I think it was the 1961 census that had five people living there? Hapimag seems quite successful, so it's certainly been done before, but I hope that the rise in tourist numbers would possibly be achieved by turning Greece into a year round destination using the facilities already there. I live in hope.
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Offline happyashellas

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2014, 11:17:51 AM »
Just noticed that they might give the go ahead for the Kavo Sidero plan on the north east of the island. This involves five hotels and a golf course in a previously unspoiled area of the island. Unless the Sitia airport is actually dealt with then it will involve a three hour transfer. They also might have to build new power stations in the area as well. The times they are a changing.....
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Offline Richard

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2014, 04:44:21 PM »
Yes, the year-round option could make much better sense for the islanders, assuming sufficient interest, by maximising use of existing facilities. I would like the idea of visiting very late Autumn if I thought that some Tavernas etc remained open. Not having tried, I wouldn't know what to expect though.

I remember seeing Hapimag when being built - in 1995 I think? - and have a vision of concrete monstrosities almost 'marching' down the hillside to the beach. Looks slightly less awful now that it has been completed, and some plant-life has returned, but still not my thing.

On the one hand, we can hope that the hotel/golf complex keeps things well away from Plakias, but if successful, who knows what else it may encourage elsewhere on the island?

Still, I remain optimistic that the hilly landscape and 'relative' remoteness of Plakias, when compared with much of the north coast, might slow changes somewhat.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2014, 04:47:41 PM by Richard »

Offline Mike G

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2014, 02:13:27 PM »
Got the times wrong as it's more like one and three quarters of an hour, but this is still well below the three hour journeys many people have in Turkey for instance. Plakias will change, that much is inevitable - I think it was the 1961 census that had five people living there? Hapimag seems quite successful, so it's certainly been done before, but I hope that the rise in tourist numbers would possibly be achieved by turning Greece into a year round destination using the facilities already there. I live in hope.
The Olympic coach seems to average 3 hours approx so I think what you are quoting is a taxi ride or hire car.

Greece will never become an all year round holiday area unless the climate changes radically. Even Rhodes (the driest area of Greece) has much more winter rainfall than SE England where I live, although, of course, it would be rather less cold.

Mike

Offline Stuart & Hilary

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2014, 05:12:57 PM »
Many people on the forum have been travelling to Plakias & the south coast of Crete a lot longer than us,  but in the eighteen years of our visits we have seen many changes albeit slowly. Plakias has changed and has grown and will continue to do so. However on visits to other resorts the main problem, we understand , is the viability of the small taverna because of  the growth of the all inclusive holiday. This we are told impacts dramatically on the character and atmosphere of the smaller town.

Offline happyashellas

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Re: Food For Thought
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2014, 10:27:58 AM »
If you wanted proof of this then have a look at Lindos, in Rhodes. All the new hotels are at the top of the hill, and whilst the residents there use the beaches during the day, they tend to spend little in the restaurants and tavernas as their meals are already paid for. We were in Agia Pelagia on the north coast a couple of years ago and the restaurants were very quiet at night because of the same thing. These new complexes claim that they create much needed jobs, which indeed they do, but at what cost to the local economy? Once these big hotels start getting a foothold, then the local apartments suffer. Try getting an apartment in Lindos through the big operators nowadays and it's frightening. The last time we stayed there we were the only people on the coach who had rooms in the village itself, and we had to show our rep where they were. On the island of Symi the day trippers arrive with their pack lunches supplied by their hotels. God I sound depressing! I'm actually rather upbeat and will continue to enjoy the beauty of southern Crete no matter what they bloody build. Γεια σας
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