Western Crete appears to be an attractive holiday choice for families and repeat travelers while all-inclusive options are losing ground, according to findings released recently by the University of Crete.
A study, jointly carried out in collaboration with the Crete Polytechnic and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania at Chania Airport in 2017, found that 50 percent of all visitors to the island were from Scandinavian countries with half of those traveling with their families.
More specifically, 16.2 percent of all travelers were from Sweden, 13.8 percent from Norway, 13.2 percent from Denmark, and 7.0 percent from Finland. Next in line were vacationers from the UK (14.2 percent), Poland (7.5 percent), Germany (6.8 percent) and Italy (4.6 percent).
Foreign arrivals to Chania Airport on direct charter flights in 2017, increased by 4.4 percent year-on-year to 1,094,862 against 1,048,703 the previous period.
According to the study, of the total number of foreign tourists choosing Chania as their final destination, the majority (85 percent) said they stayed in Chania for their vacation, with 13 percent opting for Rethymno, and smaller percentages for Heraklion and Lassithi.
Western Crete is gaining ground as a family holiday option.
In terms of profile, three out of four visitors to Crete are university graduates, with half of incoming foreign travelers reporting an annual income of up to 60,000 euros. The average duration of stay increased by one day compared to 2016 at approximately nine days, with non-Scandinavians staying an additional night.
For the majority of foreign visitors going through Chania Airport, places of cultural interest topped their activity lists, with six in 10 visiting museums, archaeological sites, monasteries and churches.
The most popular destinations in the Chania region were Platanias, Agia Marina, Kissamos and Apokoronas with 55 percent opting to stay there.
In terms of beaches, Elafonissi beach was at the top of visitors’ bucket lists, followed by Balos, Falasarna and Sougia.
Average spending per trip came to 650-800 euros, excluding transportation and accommodation costs.
Demand for all inclusive packages decline
The findings further indicate a 5-6 percent decline – for the first time in the last four years – in demand for all-inclusive package deals with 63 percent of those polled saying they prefer to stay at hotels, one in four in rented rooms or apartments, and 10 percent in Airbnbs.
According to the research, visitors from eastern Europe prefer the all-inclusive option.
Foreign travelers praised Western Crete locals’ behavior and hospitality, accommodation and taverna/restaurant/café services, and security.
Improvements were reported in bus and taxi services, parks and cleanliness at beaches and along coasts.
On the downside, foreign visitors referred to the poor condition of the road network and the lack of signage, as well as to the cleanliness of roads.
On departure, foreign vacationers buy olive oil, locally produced cheese, honey, tsikoudia spirit, and soap.