Getting officials and business to reverse course and adopt sustainable policy is like stopping a runaway steamroller. Of concern for me is the fact Crete seems poised to be run over by my metaphorical paving tool. A land invaded by just about every conceivable form of barbarian or pirate through eons of time, it’s now being set up for a bloodless German reinvasion. Some of you will hate me for this story, others will take heart and heed a defining warning about Philoxenia being in danger.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been reporting on German companies and other big winners in the corporate travel realm hell-bent on turning Crete into their own private island of slave workers. I hope my friends and associates reading this will excuse me, but, since I’ve got half a trillion dollars worth of TUI and Thomas Cook assets, corporate media, and an army of politicians on the other side of this argument – wearing boxing gloves seems useless to me now. If you will bear with me, I’ll try and give you a brief picture of a disaster about to happen.
First, let me direct your attention to this story amplified through Greek Travel Pages about the recent
“Sustainability. The Path to Longevity – Discovering the Authentic Crete and its Treasures, the workshop brought together Germany’s top tour operators, travel agents, and journalists who exchanged views and insight with local sector professionals.”
Now, I’m convinced Crete’s Commissioner of Tourism, Michalis Vamiedakis’ (above) three-pronged strategy of “Crete: tourism + culture + products,” is on its face genuine and potentially effective approach to helping those who visit the island follow his office’s new motto “Live Like a Cretan.” However, I have doubts as to ANY German tourist caring about living like a true Cretan. I’ll also bet Vamiedakis knows this because he is from Crete. Before I reiterate why selling Crete lock stock and barrel to the German and British mega tourism investors is a horrible idea, let me explain something about Cretans.
First of all, they are not stupid. Second, they are honest to a fault and if you ask anybody from Heraklion to Sitia and back to Sfakia if Germans love the Minoans or the Cretan lifestyle, they will smile wryly not wanting to insult anybody. TUI and the big companies hold virtual prisoners in the all-inclusive resorts and hotels that now rely on them for big occupancy numbers. Let’s be clear here. These companies are the Walmart of travel. Hook them and get them dependent, then pull the rug out and squeeze the life out the provider. Sam Walton created the blueprint, and the richest family in the world now perfects it. If you think otherwise, you’re a sellout or an idiot. This is the business they run.
Now that that’s off my chest, how come no Cretan should ever want a million TUI wellness clients on their island?
“Vamiedakis said the highest number of arrivals to Crete was from the German market and the tourist season had already been extended by one week.”
Now let’s get into the problem of government where it affects the people. First, let me point out that Vamiedakis is the Chairman of the Board of
Deltanet Travel, which is supposed to be a leading Destination Management Companies in Greece and Cyprus. Why is this significant, you ask? It’s important because Deltanet had its nose in everything from transfers to excursions and cruises. I say “had” because the company website seems to have been hacked (see below) as of this writing. In addition, I can’t help but point out how hard it is to find anything good about this company, at least online. A TripAdvisor review I ran across while looking simply made me chuckle. Then when I tracked down
Looking at who was in attendance at the Heraklion meetup we find TUI Germany, Alltours Flugreisen, FTI Touristik, Ferien Touristik, and LMX Touristik claiming that their clients want explorative travel on Crete in preference to the all-inclusive meal ticket. It’s interesting that GTP even took note of the fact these same operators claim 66% of their clients know nothing of alternative tourism values here? Maybe Germans are clairvoyant or have some other form of ESP?
Anyway, this new “trend” tourism companies speak of is also interesting for me since we travel all over the island to find herds of Germans holed up at the all-inclusive seaside resorts and cheap Airbnb haunts. Sorry, but the tour operators’ claims just don’t hold up according to info from SETE and elsewhere. Girogiropoli being the most popular of all Greek destinations for Germans adds credence to my claims.
Furthermore, characterizing the average German tourist using Expedia data refutes the idea any majority from Germany would prefer the more costly alternative tourism indicated for sustainability on Crete. For instance, Germans spent less than even the British on things like transportation, attractions and tours, and shopping. The majority of their spend on holiday went to hotels, which indicates their propensity to rest and hang out. In fact, Expedia surveys show Germans are by far more interested in relaxation than any of European brothers.
Now here’s what I think the goal of this Live Like a Cretan initiative trumpeted by the region’s tourism politician means. Let me translate. These travel agents have pretty much sewn up the accommodations arena with their price competitiveness etc. The only way for TUI, Thomas Cook, or any of the smaller players to grow is to head off into the countryside. The “mission,” if you will, will be to rope wineries, olive oil producers, and local merchants into buying into bargain basement tourism in the same way the hotels have.
The already broken oil producers, farmers, and the small concerns in the villages will be fed breadcrumbs of healthy Germans who love anything cheap and could care less about a Minoan treasure or authentic dance. For these breed of tourist, quaint folk dance is something cute to take home an chuckle about. I know I sound cynical, but my Cretan brothers know I am not lying.
Once 100 small taverns fail – after 40,000 olive trees get cut down to make way for a golf resort – when Crete Island is overrun with demanding El Cheapo travelers and 20-something party goers – then the property investors will move in and snatch up Crete’s heritage. In the end, the
“Against this positive background, several tour managers cautioned hoteliers to beware of excessive price increases for 2019. Mario Krug, sales manager for LMX, warned that price-sensitive customers who switched this year from high prices in Spain to more moderate deals in Greece could lose their caution about holidays in Turkey next year. “Don’t make the same mistake as Spain and be careful about pricing trends.”
The rest of this report from
“Everyone has to play a part, from airlines to hotels and restaurants.”
And if you don’t play your part? Maybe you think I am being too hard on our corporate benefactors. Trust me, these bean counters are already plotting out golf links to turn Crete into another Mallorca. The report goes on to cite
Take heed my friends. Balance, everything must be sustained through balance.
in realityare the true necessities of man”
― Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek