ECONOMY

Lasithi hotels fall off

Eastern Crete’s Lasithi district, particularly the area of Aghios Nikolaos, has seen a spate of hotel closures in recent years. Lasithi’s Hotel Owners’ Association (LHOA) Chairman Manolis Kritsotakis, who spoke to Kathimerini, says about 30 hotels have shut in Aghios Nikolaos alone in the last 10 years. He says that, despite the association’s repeated efforts, the Development Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) have done nothing to avert the trend. Aghios Nikolaos is full of «ghost» hotels as existing incentives are too poor to spur entrepreneurs into renovating and reopening them. «Lasithi is Crete’s laggard despite its natural advantage. The island’s other districts add 2,000-4,000 beds annually, whereas our numbers are minimal. Our district has been characterized as saturated since 1986, which means we cannot build on areas of less than 2 hectares. But our concerted efforts with prefectural and local authorities have proved fruitless,» Kritsotakis says. He says that if things stay as they are, business is bound to fall next year as well. Local hoteliers have now decided to offer discounts of up to 25 percent for the next season. He notes that Greece’s main competitors, like Spain and Turkey, are spending huge sums on promotion which has had a positive impact on their business. Separately, the Crete-based Greek Academy of Taste (GAT) is launching a promotion campaign for Greek tourism in collaboration with local hoteliers and restauranteurs. LHOA’s Deputy Chairman and GAT Chairman Antonis Panayiotopoulos says that within the framework of the campaign, which is to run under the title «Conserving the Cretan Diet» (CONCRED), restaurants and tavernas offering good-quality Cretan cuisine will be issued with certification signs. The program is financed under the European Union-subsidized Program for Innovative Actions in Crete. The certification signs will bear the seals of both the GAT and the Mediterranean Diet Conservatoir, of which GAT is a member.