Residents and professionals of Crete are placing their bets on the completion of the Kastelli Airport, which will in the process include parallel infrastructure works such as road networks thus paving the way for growth, according to findings of a recently released Crete Technical University study.
Approximately 81.3 percent participating in the survey said they believe the new airport will have a positive impact on tourism to the island.
When asked which areas should be the focus of development, 40.2 percent said tourism together with the improvement of infrastructure, 32.7 percent said the primary sector, followed by 11.1 percent who said investment in renewable energy sources, 7.7 percent referred to the development of cultural and traditional elements and 5 percent said on industry, while 2.7 percent said on trade, insurance, medical and banking services.
Indicatively, 81.3 percent believe the new airport at Kastelli will have a positive impact on tourism while 84.2 percent said it will also benefit the expansion of municipalities in the wider area. A total of 83.8 percent said it would have a positive affect on business.
Meanwhile, 84.9 percent said the airport will “drive” the development of other much-needed infrastructure projects, while 50.7 percent expressed concerns over the negative environmental impact of the construction of the new airport at Kastelli.
Initially set to be operational in 2018, the airport is expected to handle more than seven million passengers per year, becoming Greece’s second-biggest airport. The project however has repeatedly been put on the back burner. To date Chinese, French, German, Indian and Spanish groups have expressed interest in obtaining the 37-year concession through joint initiatives with Greek companies. The project has been budgeted at 900 million euros, and the winning bidder will also be responsible for the construction of Crete-wide road links to the airport. In the meantime, water and sanitation projects will also be required, including the transfer of the settlements located within the proposed runway.
Sights on Tourism
Meanwhile, with regard to the island’s tourism potential, one in four respondents wants tourism to increase by more than double in the coming years. A total of 32 percent said they want the number of tourists to double in the next decade while 30.4 percent said it was necessary to increase the number of visitors to Crete by 50 percent over the next 10 years.
With regard to tourism infrastructure on Crete, 44.5 percent said it sufficiently met the needs of visitors to the island, 12.8 percent said new hotels must be constructed to boost the tourism product, while two in 10 said small accommodation units would be better against 18.7 percent who were in favor of large hotels.