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Is All Expansion Good

Expansion initiatives by the Greek Government that directly affect the welfare of the island of Crete.

  10 Mar 2018   admin

Is All Expansion Good ?

Following Greece’s fiscal problems with the European Community we are being told that the country is now moving on and a bright future is ahead. Reading all the commentators it would generally appear that this is the correct attitude to adopt when thinking about Greece.

initiative map for Greece

Certainly the Government appears to reflect this view as new projects are being given the green light on a weekly basis.
But where is this money coming from. I can’t believe they’re Crown Projects, ie financed from central Government via the coffers of GDP, the smaller ones maybe but the larger ones, like the infrastructure to accommodate this expansion will need finance from elsewhere. Maybe more of the same Public Private Partnership, set up where the private party carries most of the risk but benefits from the facilities management as Greece lacks the industry to carry this out. Some projects will inevitably be PFI, Private Finance Initiative which is the most common contractural arrangement of PPP. However this does mean the finished article will not be public owned for a period of time, usually several years. Mind you, much of every countries infrastructure is built using PFI and I believe it to be a very good thing as long as the companies involved are thoroughly vetted and their finances investigated.

OK, we’ve got the money. Now let’s look at the proposals, especially for Crete as this is the area for concern by this blog.

  • The Ministry for Tourism is keen on opening Crete all year round. A 365 day tourist destination. This proposal will be infinitely more difficult than it sounds. Whilst the airlines Easyjet, Norwegian Air and RyanAir are putting on more flights throughout the summer from various locations, some of which are new and the dates for direct flights have been extended, getting the airlines to agree with leaseholders of the airports’ ie Fraport, their winter landing fees may prove troublesome. The airlines will inevitably be looking for some early discounts until bookings take off ( no pun intended ).
    The other, in no way lesser, problem will be the accommodation owners and facilities owners both of which rely heavily on local people for their staff.
    Many islanders work in the hotels, bars, restaurants and tavernas during the summer months and tend their olives, vines, goats and sheep during the other six months of the year. The owners may require Government assistance to be able to staff their premises during the early years of this initiative.My view is that in the long term this can only be good for Crete. Maybe the young people may not want to migrate so eagerly to find work if the island can provide it all year round. This would be a fabulous bonus for the Greek people.
    Secondly, this island has so much to offer the visitor outside of the very hot summer. Walking through the landscape of Crete from October to April is a real joy that is probably not bettered anywhere.
  • One of my favourite spots for swimming and just laying back and absorbing the landscape is Octopus Bay in the Apokoronas. Correctly called Ormos Bros Gialos.
    The intention to turn this beautiful area into a scuba diving centre may be good for scuba divers and scuba diving companies, maybe not the local PADI centre Omega Diving as it will surely bring some stiff competition, but what about the Greek people that use this bay to get away from all the tourists on the resort beaches. Also the road from Paleloni could not possibly accommodate all the extra traffic that this new park would bring. One piece of expansion I’m not so keen on.
  • There has been talk for some time about the new oil refinery to be built near Matala. As oil refining is one of the biggest contributors to the Greece GDP, roughly 12%, see my blog the islanders shouldn’t moan about it as it is part of their livelihood. This will obviously coincide with the new drilling platforms proposed for the south west of Crete in the Ionian Sea. This follows a positive response from drilling off Cyprus.Very large companies are bidding for this and as they will be financing everything including any infrastructure required on the island, this can only be good for Crete’s future. No doubt Sfaxia will have something to say about this, as Crete’s contribution to Greece will rise.Hopefully this extra money can be used to tidy up this small corner of Crete where tourism is beginning to look a little sad. Especially Matala which is looks like any of the hippies that frequent the place. It’s not just about the festival ! there are other months as well.

All in all, I believe the future does look bright. If the Government don’t drop the ball and the Greek people embrace the good changes and throw out the bad, ie Octopus Bay, then everything in the garden will be rosey. Crete is continually in the press for good beaches, Elafonisi recently voted second best beach in Europe, good restaurants, the Apokoronas and Chania always gaining rave reviews and the weather, well, what can you say – just fantastic !

Terence Bridge

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