Today On May 1, Samaria National Park opened its doors to nature lovers from all over the world.
The ERT camera has found the place whose beauty takes your breath away. Although in rainy weather, visitors from Belgium, Germany, Canada and many other countries, they started with enthusiasm and smiles the descent from Xyloskalos to Omalos in the municipality of Platanias from an altitude of 1100 meters, to cover a course of 13.3 km and end up in the beautiful Agia Roumeli, in the municipality of Sfakion and in the Cretan Sea.
61 years have passed since the declaration of the Samaria Gorge as a national forest and 31 years since its establishment Network of Protected Areas “Natura 2000“, to which the region adhered.
Samaria National Park has turned out to be an “ambassador” not only of the regional unit of Chania, but also of all of Crete, because – according to a survey by the Tourism Observatory – it is an important attraction for visitors, outside an area of special natural beauty, and contributes to tourism and the expansion of economic development.
During the five-year period 2018-2022, the Samaria Gorge was visited by 634,285 citizens, and without the restrictions of the pandemic, especially in 2020, it is certain that this number would have been much higher.
Record number of visitors in 2022
2022 turned out to be a five-year record year, as 168,593 people visited the gorge. This year, expectations are high, as a further increase in the number of people from all over the world is expected, who have the opportunity to experience the visit through a hike in the green landscape, with the imposing and the peaks of the mountains magnetizing the visitor.
.A route, in a landscape that goes from the wild and unruly beauty of the mountains to the tropical waters of the Cretan Sea.
According with Tourism Observatory figures, in 2018 155,396 people visited the Samaria Gorge, in 2019 visitors were 159,051 people, in 2020 with pandemic bans and restrictions 56,287.
In 2021 the gorge was visited by 94,985 people and in 2022 the highest number of visitors in the five-year period was recorded, 168,593 people.
They choose Crete for the gorge
According to figures from the Tourism Observatory, 21.8% of visitors were very broadly or decisively influenced by the existence of the gorges to visit Crete. The majority of visitors are in the age bracket of 20 to 50, as six out of ten belong to this age group, the percentage of male – female visitors is 50 to 50, while six out of ten are university graduates. Higher Education. 62% of visitors declare an income between 10,000 and 45,000 euros.
Visitors make sure they know which place they are visiting
Indeed, visitors make sure to be perfectly informed about Drymos, before embarking on their trip to Greece and Crete. The information comes mainly from the internet at 50.1% and from friends and relatives who visited it in the past at a rate of 40.1%. The majority with a percentage of 58.3%, however, did not know that the Samaria Gorge was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, but 53.9% knew about the protected species in the park.
J67.3% of tourists who visited Samaria this year did so for the first time while 32.7% have visited the park before while most of them say they are satisfied with the entrance ticket price .
Samaria appeals to visitors in almost every area. The majority of them answered that they would recommend the visit of the national park to relatives and friends but it also seems that some of the visitors were motivated after the visit to Samaria and would like to follow other mountain routes either at core of the park or within its wider boundaries.
In fact, according to AMIH director Giorgos Baourakis, “from the research data, it appears that the gorge can function as a hub for the development of the hinterland, with alternative forms of tourism which can act as a counterweight to the mass tourism of the northern axis, giving life to the hinterland.
Tourism in the Samaria Gorge was the subject of a study by the Tourism Observatory of the Mediterranean Agricultural Institute of Chania, in collaboration with the Technical University of Crete, the Directorate of Forests of Chania and the Samaria National Forest Management Agency, which was incorporated into OFYPE.KA and is now operating as a management unit of Samaria National Park since 2013.