Heathrow Airport could be “shut down” this summer if strikes over salaries ignite the ire of more than 4,000 workers. In another story, Thomas Cook appears to have This and other news from the UK bears on the much needed shot in the arm Greek tourism needs for the remaining months of the season.
In news from ITV, airport security guards, engineers, and drivers are set to walk off the job July 26th, 27th and August 5,6, 23, and 24 following the rejection of an 18-month pay offer of £3.75 extra a day for the lowest paid.
Experts say the walkout could shut down one of the world’s busiest airports disrupting traffic not only to Greece and Crete but to every destination on the map. More than 4,000 workers including security guards, engineers and drivers will walk out on July 26 and 27, and August 5, 6, 23 and 24.
In other news pertinent to Crete and Greece overall, Thomas Cook chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, is trying to persuade the public and investors the company is not about to go belly up, but almost certain job cuts are in the wind. The bottom line for Thomas Cook is that the company has overextended not only in having too many high street stores but in projects to capture more market share in places like Crete.
The problem for TC is that company strategies are archaic and focused on brick and mortar investing still. The digital age has been only a marginal thing for the travel company, while Thomas Cook opened up Chania’s Casa Cook hotel right after announcing a £1.5bn loss. The company announced back in May this new hotel was 70% booked for the summer, which means something was already wrong with either marketing or extended planning. Crete, which is now suffering from the migration of tourists to Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia, is usually 110% booked for summer. By May, 85% booked would have been the right figure. And Thomas Cook announced their opening of 20 such hotels – ergo my “bricks and mortar” comment. Forget mediocre marketing endeavors, investing in this many projects on weak legs is a recipe for disaster.
At the same instant huge travel companies are feeling the pain of their own expansionism, the markets they’ve flooded with budget tourism show signs of wear and tear. Here on Crete, where hospitality and absolutely no crime are legendary, the seams of tranquility seem tattered. A flood of party tourists, lower-middle-income budget travelers, and all-inclusive hordes at the buffets of beach resorts produce an aftereffect. Unsustainable tourism. The car crash in Malia last week is but one example of Crete over-tourism in my view. Whenever you crowd an infrastructure and a society beyond its means, accidents and even crime are an end result.
The Malia accident involved 4-holiday seekers, two of whom died instantly when a rented 4×4 struck a parked motorbike at 6 am in the morning. A third passenger, a young woman is fighting for her life in a hospital, while a fourth passenger escape injury. The reports from this tragedy indicate the drivers and passengers were likely driving home from an all-night party when their rented Kia jeep smashed into the parked vehicle.
The tragic footnote to almost all of the negative incidents on Crete is that foreigners are almost always the subjects of the stories. The most recent high profile case of the murder of American scientist Dr. Suzanne Eaton is still under investigation, but a search for homicides and deaths on the island almost always results in foreigner-on-foreigner or single tourist tragedies. In 2013 one Brit stabbed another to death. A little boy from the UK died back in 2011 when his father pushed him and his sister off a 4-story hotel balcony. In 2014 a British man was killed in a jet ski accident, and in 2018 a West Sussex man was charged with manslaughter after killing a boy with a single punch outside a nightclub in Malia. Other cases began mounting up starting back in 2014-2015, and in one case a UK man killed his own girlfriend by punching her in the stomach.
Crete, like Santorini and other popular tourist destinations, is highly sensitive to the waves of trends either economic, political, or environmental. Thomas Cook and TUI flooding the island with holiday seekers bent on cheap vacations is one pressure, while bad economics like low wages and strive abroad add another kind of pressure. The message for Crete and the other Greek isles should be clear. In order to maintain these wonderful holiday paradises for the future, more attention should be paid to real planning and strategies for regulating the things that can be controlled. But new regulatory moves should also take into consideration the freeness of these paradises, and the essence the Greek isles have always held for visitors.