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Self Catering in Greece. Why Crete ?

Explanatory article about all the good reasons why you should holiday in Greece and specifically Crete.

  12 Feb 2018   admin

As a Holiday Destination, Why Crete ?

There’s quite a lot of information around the internet about Crete. My problem is that so much of it is repetitive, vaguely incorrect, years out of date and absolutely no use to the holiday maker. If you run a website, please make sure it is updated at least monthly. I manage a few websites, one of which is for villas in Crete 2018, that are updated every week.

I’ve got quite involved in tourism as this is the fourth website I’ve developed for villas on Crete, some for villas to rent on Crete and a couple for villa sales and I crave good and accurate information about this wonderful island.

Now, there’s a thing. Is it “ in Crete “ or “ on Crete “ ? I think that as correct grammar is “ on an island “ then it must be “ on Crete “.

There’s still quite a bit of bad press about holidaying on a Greek island. If they’re not headlining that the economy is bankrupt, they’re telling us that the islands have no room because they are overloaded with migrants.

protester with placard

Carrying a large debt is not the same as being bankrupt and for the last four years, following two successive Governments that manipulated the economy figures to suit themselves, the Greek economy has shown steady growth albeit slowing down recently. The four big credit organisations give Greece’s credit as “ good “ and “ positive “. You don’t get that if you are bankrupt. Greece has been quite clever in investing in the Balkan countries and getting Russia and China to invest in them. Greece has an open visa policy whereby you can gain a visa by purchasing property. This has encouraged Russian and Chinese investment through property purchase. As the Russians build mainly upmarket properties, as I have witnessed first hand, which lifts the area, I believe the Greek people probably welcome the Russian investment.

As for migrants, I’ve yet to see one on Crete, although I believe there are a few hundred toward the east end of the island. As we are a population of over 621,000, I don’t think a few migrants will worry us. We should take them. They are the fallout of the US foreign policy which has decimated the middle east and caused so much terrorism. But less of that. Back to Crete.

I read on the internet that in terms of gross domestic product, GDP, Greece is 44th in the world of 185 countries. As we don’t have any heavy industry, that is probably about right. Crete’s contribution to that GDP is 4.9%. This figure is probably out of date but I doubt it changes much. A more interesting figure is the contribution that Crete, out of the fourteen districts, makes to tourism which at last count, again out of date and could be higher, is 6.3%.

Now, here’s a thing. Did anyone know that Greece’s biggest export was petroleum oils ? I bet you all thought it was olive oil. Hence their biggest import is crude oil. Greece is a service country first and not a manufacturing one.

graphic about oil and the GDP

Greece’s exports contribute to over 30% of GDP and petroleum oils take up 39% of that figure. Olive oil is 0.4%.

It is a well known fact that seasonality is the biggest factor to overcome in Greek tourism especially on Crete.
Over 50% of visits contributing to 62% of the tourism revenue happen in the third quarter with only 8% of visits equating to 3% of revenue happen in the first quarter.

Whilst direct contribution ( ie selling tickets etc ) of tourism to the Greek GDP is about 7.5% the real contribution including job creation is nearer 20%. No government would neglect looking after this amount of money. Somewhere in the region of 30 billion euros.

Greece is still behind France, Italy, Spain and Turkey for contributions to the GDP by tourism but if you take into account the actual GDP of the country and therefore the relative contribution it lies second behind Malta. But, probably the more interesting figure, is that Greece lies at the top of the table for growth of its tourism industry.

The latest figure, given last week, for tourism contribution to Crete’s GDP, giving by the Greek Tourism Minister, Elena Kourtoura, is 51%.
That’s a very large chunk of money which requires investment to encourage growth. Mrs Kourtoura states that Greece intend to invest in Crete by making it a 365 day destination. She will have to do some heavy negotiating with the airline companies and the German owners of the airport leases to ensure winter discounts are available from the landing fees of Crete. An interesting challenge. If they get it right everyone’s a winner. There has to be direct flights.

comic dogs fighting over a bone

There will also be lots of negotiating with hotels and private villa owners who have just been handed new rules and so much extra paperwork by the Government. There will probably need to be a rethink on that.

But, if the Greeks can achieve making Crete this all round destination, not only will the added revenue help the economy, the prospective tourists will be able to see what a fabulous island Crete is for the other six months of the year.
We have snow on the mountains, lots of sunshine but lower temperatures, great for walking holidays, fabulous light for painting and photography and if you are in the Apokoronas, lots of activities. Spring is probably the best time to visit Crete with the big Easter celebrations and the countryside covered in the most glorious array of wild flowers. I would expect the rest of Crete to open its doors to winter trading if we get the direct flights. It will probably end up a squabble between the airlines and the hoteliers as to who should make the first move.

When I set out to write this blog it was about how good Crete is to take a holiday on. I took a few side turnings along the way but I hope you have kept up with me because Crete is a magical island with a mystical past. It is changing. Moving into the present but not losing its charm ever as the Cretan people and every visitor, young or old, will hold its charm in their hearts.
If you come to Crete, you will return, year after year as so many people do. I have a story that has no doubt been told by many others.

When I first visited Crete sometime in 2004, it wasn’t the first by design as my daughters whooping cough had thwarted a previous booking some twenty years earlier. We had only put Crete back into our travel plans recently following our next door neighbour and close friends’ emigration to Greece’s largest island.

Our friends had only been in residence for a year when we decided we would see how they were enjoying the Greek islands. We had so much to talk about, their house, their animals, as, like all ex pat residents we were to find out later, they had come across a darling puppy and kitten that had been abandoned in their local church. We talked late into the night even discussing the cost of living.

To cut a long story short, we visited for the next five years, as we had fallen in love with Crete and all that it offered. Like every tourist that visits a Greek island, I dreamed about retiring to Crete and would always browse the estate agent windows, and every year I visited, that yearning became stronger. Until, due to ill health I had to retire early and as my wife’s company said that she could still work for them as an online salesperson, I saw my ambition quite clearly.

When we made our final visit to our friends in Paleloni, a very small village of the Apokoronas area in the Chania region, it was 2009. We had a short holiday with them to the eastern end of the island, just to settle my mind that the Apokoronas was the best place to live on Crete. On returning to their place, we had arranged several viewing visits with the local Estate Agent. Whether by clever design or just a fluke, it was the final properties that we liked the best, although they were yet to be completed.

Throughout 2009, our friends acted as project managers, sending us lots of photos of the progressing properties. We had decided which property we wanted already but hadn’t yet told the agents. I visited Crete in early winter that year and decided to make the final payment. We had sold our house in England and were living in rented accommodation. The decision was made to move to Crete, lock stock and barrel in the spring of 2010. The kids had left home and we were our own masters.

We’ve been living in the same house for eight years in a small village, no taverna or kafenion, called Kambia, in the heart of the Apokoronas and only five minutes from the beach at Almyrida. We have one house cat and four others vying for a similar position. They are great fun.
As is living on Crete. Much cheaper in every way than living in the UK and the weather is so much better. Everybody here is friendly especially the fabulous Cretan people.

At this point I would like to settle a few issues:

I have heard several moans from people, mainly in the UK, that Greek food only consists of chips and souvlaki, dolmades, stifado and no pudding ! How wrong they are ! Maybe not about the pudding as dessert is very seasonal in Greece.
This view is entirely down to tourist tavernas that ring the hotels offering cheap meals designed to please children and pull the families in. Often these tavernas are not even owned by Greeks. I know, I’ve been that route myself with a young family.

A funny story. When a friend of ours came to live on Crete from the UK, the first time she ventured out to the local taverna she asked the waiter for a vodka and tonic. When the waiter returned with a long glass full of vodka and a bottle of tonic on the side, she gave him back the glass and said “ That’s too much vodka. I can’t possibly drink all that. “ The whole table looked at her in astonishment including the waiter. It wasn’t long before she saw the funny side and to this day has never made that mistake again.
My advice, if you want to see the real Crete and experience fabulous nights of entertainment together with some of the best food around the Mediterranean and probably the cheapest, go self catering on Crete. If you want the luxury of a hotel pick a nice villa with a pool. If you want some more advice, choose a villa or apartment from Aine Cretan Villa Holidays. I know these people and they will fuss and cosset you to ensure your holiday is just perfect. Look on the website for interesting places to dine out. All of which, my family and friends regularly visit.

Now, here’s a thing. I asked someone once why there were so many Norwegian holiday makers and home owners in the Apokoronas. I was told quite bluntly “ It’s cold in Norway and hot here.“ When I had the opportunity and following my discovery that there were also many other Scandinavians also, I asked a Norwegian the same question. She told me that Norwegians were happy people and they liked other happy people and nowhere was there a better welcome than on Crete. I’m inclined to agree, having made so many Greek friends during our time on the island.

Tourism has good growth mainly due to increased spending on the infrastructure and facilities and the Greeks are getting better at advertising themselves. Rental rates are mostly the same as last year, with some even falling, tavernas and restaurants have kept the same prices even though their taxes have increased.

There are so many reasons to holiday on Crete.

Did you know we have the best light in the Mediterranean.
The diet on Crete contributes to the Cretan people outliving everyone else.
We have clean long beaches. ( no dogs allowed )
The sea is clean and swimming is wonderful.
We have mountains, gorges, music, art, nightlife, watersports etc etc.

What a great place. What a great place to holiday. Come and see us. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

Visit the website http://rentvillacrete.com where you have an excellent choice of villa and location and where all the information is provided to ensure you have the perfect holiday.

Terence Bridge.

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