Every year the statistics show there is an increase in tourism on the Greek islands (and Greece in general.) For example, the figures from 2015 gathered that 2.5 million people visited the Greek islands, and the percentage of Visitors from UK and Ireland increased by nearly 15% (source GNTO )
My question is ,who really benefits from the increase in tourism?
Each year I visit Greece, the number of social media users has grown and travel agents now use online marketing to package their deals and source holiday makers from all around the globe. A growing number of travel agencies offer packages that include breakfast inclusive of accommodation (and sometimes lunch/dinner)
Local restaurant owners are losing business due to these package deals, as travel agencies have contracted deals with the hotels, and receive commissions from these packages. They also provide ‘recommendations’ to cafes and bars , which they are affiliated.
A large percentage of travel agents associate themselves with big hotels, even if they are foreignly owned. This is driving money out of Greece and into the foreign market.
And, the true authentic Greek experience is ‘lost in translation’.
Locally owned studios and hotels which are usually family run, offer authenticity and amazing history. Here, they will welcome you like family and provide you with some exceptional island knowledge.
I have a great memory-I took my tour group to a restaurant the owner of our local hotel had recommended. He personally escorted us and spoke to the restaurant owner to make sure we would be taken care of. He thought surely this is what all hotel owners do!
We had another wonderful experience- upon our arrival the owner was so welcoming he took us straight to a local tavern for octopus and ouzo ‘on the house’. Later on, onboard his mini van a great Greek song came on the radio. Immediately he stopped the van, got out and danced Zebekiko . He provided some spontaneous entertainment, from the heart. It will not be forgotten for those who were there!
It is sad to think with the ever growing social media trends, we rely hugely on the Internet to book every minute of our holiday. I understand we live in the digital era and I too am apart of the social media world. (Well, you are reading this on Facebook!)
Just spare a thought for all the small businesses in Greece who rely on your business and I encourage you to book direct (a phone all goes a long way!) And, Try to eat at local taverna’s which are authentic and delicious! Every cent back into the Greek economy will help keep the local tourism industry survive.
Remember-throw yourself amongst the chaos of Greece, and these are the moments that will give you the real greek experience.
*Greek Balance Tours is a proud supporter of local business. All of our accommodation, and activities are organised and operated direct by our local suppliers*