Σάββατο, 6 Οκτωβρίου 2007

Tourism in Lesvos Greece: Empirical data

Efstratios Papanis and Eleni Kitrinou
University of the Aegean

THE AEGEAN ISLANDS REGION
The archipelago of the Aegean consists of two regions: the Northern Aegean region and the Southern Aegean region. Northern Aegean region includes the prefectures of: Lesvos, Chios and Samos. the region assembles percentage of 1,8% of the Greek population, with tendency of reduction. It produces 1,7% of GDP of the country 3,2% of rural production, 0,2% of manufacturing and 1,6% of services. Southern Aegean region includes the prefectures of: Dodekanisa and Kyklades. . It assembles percentage of 2,8% of the country population, with intense tendency of increase. It produces 3% of the country GDP, 2,5% of rural production, 0,4% of manufacturing and 3,7% of services (http//:www.statistics.gr).
Characteristics of the transport network
When trade flourished with Middle Eastern countries, the Aegean islands were geographically advantageous compared to continental Greece. Particularities in transport, regarding the island character, are attributed to the fact that access to and from the islands occur mainly via the sea. Important significance, in expressing the problem of transport in the islands, is the re-establishment of territorial continuity, with multiple dimensions, like:
• High duration of marine travel
• High transport cost (especially in air travel)
• Problems regarding frequency, regularity, quality of transport services
• Problems regarding the infrastructure in ports and airports
• Problems concerning decentralization of services and regional development
The coastal network consists of 141 nodes including 49 continental and 92 island ports. With regards to the wider area of the Aegean islands, there are 47 basic ports, which are served globally by the coastal network. The arcs of this network are 285 lines in total (195 main lines and 90 local lines). A percentage of 88-92% of the total demand is covered by these lines. It must be noted that passenger movement to and from the region has increased over the recent years (the mean annual increase is about 5%).
The air network structure is simpler, regarding both the number of nodes (airports) and the number of itineraries. The air network includes 42 airports, from which the 34 serve the network of internal air transport and 24 constitute destinations where the plane and the ship are competitors of the line. The central nodes of the air network are Athens and Thessalonica, around which radial almost all the lines are developed. The connections between the islands are limited because of the limited demand that is observed. There are a total of 88 network lines, while 44 of them are in the wider area of the Aegean islands. The air passenger movement in the Aegean islands was increased by 43%., during the 5year period 1995-2000.
The major negative development issues are as follows:
1. Their overall economic activities are less diversified and more specialized than large economies due mainly to their narrow range of human and non-human economic resources and markets. The narrow resource base and domestic market, coupled with high transport costs, severely limit what Kindleberger (1968) calls the "capacity of transformation" of economies.
2. Because of the small domestic market, there are not many options available for Economic development. A heavy dependency of small island economies on external factors creates the problem of economic instability and vulnerability,
3. Island economies usually suffer from diseconomies of scale in production, investment, consumption, transportation, education, and administrative services.
4. Another characteristic of island economies, which is more or less related to the
aforementioned problems, is their heavy dependence on government activities as a
major source of income, employment, and probably as a symbol of prestige.

There are, however, a number of characteristics of island areas which can be considered to be economically advantageous over larger economies, such as "the importance of being unimportant in external commercial policy, more unified national markets, greater flexibility, and perhaps greater potential social cohesion." (Kakazu, 2007).

Island areas have enormous potential to develop a tourism industry which is a future-oriented industry. The industry is becoming the most important source of foreign exchange earnings for islands. The tourism industry, however, is in many ways beyond the control of these island economies. It depends not only on economic conditions of industrialized regions but also on various imported inputs such as transportation, hotels, sales promotion, raw materials, souvenirs, and even foodstuffs, all of which consist of leakages from the economies

Another future-oriented growth industry which is well-suited to small islands is the information and communication technology (ICT) industry. The ICT industry is a “footloose” and does not require natural resources, transportation and heavy technology which are prerequisites for agriculture and manufacturing. The ICT industry is also future-oriented because the resultant nest society will be a knowledge society. Knowledge will be its key resource, and knowledge workers will be the dominant group in its workforce. Manufacturing was the dominant social and political force in the 20th century, knowledge technologists are likely to become the dominant social and perhaps also political force over the next decades.

ICTs especially encourage flexible working arrangements (teleworking at home or at a teleworking centre, mobile working, self-employment, etc) since access to work can no longer be measured only in terms of travel time, distance or cost. A teleworker is normally someone who is self-employed and possesses specific skills which are utilised by distant businesses on a contract basis. Teleworking can be done both at home or from a remote office, and offers new types of employment opportunities for remotely based remote populations – such as islands.

Teleworking impact on island development and tourism: State of the art

Although the disadvantages of teleworking are often discussed – in the lack of a social environment in which to work, the lack of employee rights, benefits and promotion prospects; in remote areas with high unemployment and under-employment, it offers very real opportunities. Furthermore, the advantages of teleworking are significant: flexible working hours, ability to work from home, new opportunities to use skills and qualifications, and competitive incomes. Smith (1998) also points out that “home based teleworkers have been found to be more productive than their contemporaries in centrally located office environments, and more loyal employees, thereby reducing staff turnover and safeguarding (and indeed encouraging) investment in training programmes.”

There are certainly examples of significant ICT related businesses in remote Scotland – e.g. the Forres Telework Centre, Thurso Call Centre and the ICT Advisory Service in the Western Isles, but further investment in ICT would significantly improve the competitive advantage of remote areas. Smith (1998) developed a case study on the implementation of teleworking in Western Isles in Scotland. He studied the effects on the economy of the area. The study suggested that the teleworking initiative has evolved since 1994 in the area. It has been organized in a partnership, called WI-ICTAS (Western Isles Information & Communications Technology Advisory Service), which runs a facilitation service, Work-Global, seeking out worldwide teleworking opportunities and attracts inward investment. The effects on the development of the region that presented were the following: A database of over 550 profiles of potential teleworkers was established, approximately 180 jobs were generated and also over 1 million euro income generated through individual teleworkers

With a population density of only 0.1 persons per hectare, the Western Isles suffer from sustained population decline, and unemployment. In 1990 unemployment in the Western Isles was at 10%, increasing to 11.9% in 1994. Male unemployment in 1994 was at 16.6%. (Scottish Office,1995). The peripheral location of the islands means that many of the islands’ communities are distant from the main centre of Stornoway, which has a population of around 10 000. All the islands are affected by the long distances from markets, high transport costs and lack of access to services and market information. The islands are characterised by high unemployment, underemployment, depopulation (particularly through out migration of young people and the most economically active groups), low incomes and a high dependence on public sector employment, and on the declining traditional industries such as fishing and crafting.

Smith (1998) juxtaposes the weaknesses of the Western Isles economy with the internal strengths and resources that the islands’ population possesses. The tradition of self employment and the high standards of education in the islands mean there is a highly educated and adaptable workforce, able to switch from one form of employment to another. Smith points out that the development of both tourism and the ICT sectors have added to the increase of occupational pluralism in the islands.

In addition, Stewart (2002) developed a case study on the implementation of teleworking at ICC company (a media services company based in the Canary Islands). The company developed and implemented a Linux based open-source Intranet, based to provide a common interface for teleworking. Traditional groupware tools and a corporate mail system were installed to support electronic communications and teamwork. An Extranet was also established to provide electronic delivery of services to the final client. Results indicated that the system has helped ICC to overcome the problems of being based on an archipelago and it can now run projects involving team members from all seven islands. Workers have responded positively to the introduction of teleworking and managers find it easier to monitor projects in a teleworking environment.

Grudd (1999) analyzed the role of a telecenter used by the employees of Volvo and Ericsson that live in the island community of Öckerö for regular teleworking. They found that teleworking resulted in a number of external effects:
• Reduced commuting traffic (resulting in environmental improvements, fewer road accidents, reduced peak hour traffic can eliminate the need for some road investments).
• Improved basis for local trade and services in suburban and peripheral communities. .

A "teleworking platform" was also developed in Balearic Islands in year 2004. A telecentres net was developed in the three main islands. Participants in the inaugurationl included: mass media, local politicians, and business organisations. A teleworking central node was coordinated the activities of the telecentres, access via a transactional website and call centre and to provide general information on teleworking, details of teleworking activities in Balears, reservatin of space in telecentres, rental of teleworking equipment, contract translation services, etc. The target groups were: tourist (enlarge their holidays), local SMEs (new way of working: way to overcome insularity), and tourism sector managers (included teleworking in their offer).

The current research was conducted during summer, mainly in July and August of 2006, because the vast majority of tourists visited Lesvos within that period. The sample was accumulated at random. Questionnaires were distributed at the airport and at the port of Mytilene one hour prior to tourist’s departure. This period of time was most appropriate because it allowed participants to have an integrated opinion for the touristical infrastructure of Lesvos and the pros and cons of their stay on the island. The sample consisted of 501 tourists, 200 foreigners and 301 Greeks. The majority of Greek participants came from Athens and Thessalonica, although there was a small amount of people that originated from the rest of the country. The foreigners were, mostly, from Great Britain, Holland and USA. However, some were from Ireland, Germany, France, Belgium and Norway.
For the purposes of the research, the questionnaire was translated into English. The questionnaire was divided into three sections, the demographic part, the main part of the questionnaire and the appraisal of the island. The vast majority of the questions had multiple choices. However, there were three open ended questions. Demographic questions recorded characteristics of each participant, such as gender, age, educational and financial level, place of origin etc. Furthermore, the main part of the questionnaire consisted of five questions about the participants’ financial status and the cost of their stay on the island, three questions about the reasons for choosing Lesvos and certain places within the island and three more questions about the way they were informed about their destination. The last section included questions about “infrastructures”, “hospitality/ service” and “local civilization, culture and environment”, which were appraised by the participants.
The statistical tests which were used for the completion of the data analysis were: Frequencies and Crosstabs. Frequencies of responses were transformed to percentages, whereas Crosstabs and chi-square tests depicted the relationship between the independent and the dependent variables.

Results


An important factor for the development of tourist industry is the extension of periods that tourists stay in Lesvos. Our observations (summer 2005) suggest that foreign tourists remain on the island for a two week period and spend approximately 2000 Euros. Greek tourists stay for about 9,6 days and spend 780 euros. The data contribute to the widespread notion that local authorities should pay more attention to systematic efforts in advertising the island abroad (table1, table2).


Table 1: Mean period of stay in Lesvos

Means Minimum stay Maximum stay
Nationality Greeks 9,6 1 122
Foreigners 13,4 5 210

Money that tourists spent during their stay in Lesvos
Means Minimum amount of money Maximum amount of money
Nationality Greeks 780 57 4000
Foreigners 2000 200 7000


As expected, the majority of respondents claimed that natural beauty of Lesvos island is the primary reason for visiting it (42.8% of Greeks tourists, 64% Non Greek tourists). It seems that religious tourism is a very important factor of tourist development, since Lesvos attracts thousands of Greek pilgrims each year, who visit Saint Raphael’s Monastery, Mandamados and Agiasos for the famous icons of Taxiarchis and Mother of Christ. Eventually, 19% of Greek tourists visited Lesvos for religious reasons, 17.7% for low cost and 12% for the possibility of alternative types of tourism, such as eco-tourism etc. 16% of non Greek tourists visited Lesvos because of the low cost and 12% for the possibility of alternative types of tourism (table 1)
Table 1 about here
Reasons for visiting Lesvos Greeks Foreigners
Natural Beauty 42,8% 64,0%
Low Cost 17,7% 16,0%
Development in Touristic Infrastuctures 5,6% 8,0%
Alternative Types of Tourism 10,1% 12,0%
Close to the permanent residence 2,3% 0,0%
Religious Tourism 19,0% 0,0%
Groups 2,5% 0,0%


Analytically, the reasons for visiting specific places within Lesvos were the local tradition, which was especially important to non Greek tourists, clean sea and beaches, residents’ hospitality, rich vegetation and wild life. On the contrary, cheap residence and high quality of services had low proportions of tourists responses, which emphasizes the fact that special care should be given to the improvement of infrastructure and attitudes ( table 2).
Table 2 about here
Reasons for visiting other places in Lesvos Greeks Foreigners
Local Tradition 19,0% 31,0%
Cheap accomodation 2,0% 3,0%
Accomodation quality 2,0% 9,0%
Clean sea and beaches 26,0% 33,0%
Rich Vegetation 13,0% 6,0%
Inhabitants’ hospitality 10,0% 14,0%
Religious reasons 21,0% 2,0%
Close destination from the islands’ capital 3,0% 0,0%
Other reasons 4,0% 2,0%

Table 3 presents the most frequently visited places of Lesvos by Greek and non Greek tourists. The differences in responses is statistically significant at 0.05 level, which indicates that our sample of Greek and non Greek tourists belong to different populations, with different motives and preferences: Foreigners visit the most advertised places (Molyvos, Eftalou, Eressos, Sigri and Skalla Kallonis) with large and luxurious hotels, whilst Greeks have higher variation in their final destinations (table 3).
Table 3 about here
Places on Lesvos that were visited by tourists Greeks Foreigners
Mytilene 12% 9%
Saint Raphail- Monasteries 10% 3%
Mantamados 10% 4%
Sykamia 5% 5%
Molyvos- Eftalou 11% 23%
Petra- Anaksos 10% 19%
Kaloni- Skala Kalonis- Agia Paraskevi 9% 14%
Eressos- Sigri 8% 13%
Polichnitos- Vatera 6% 1%
Plomari- Gera 7% 3%
Agiasos 8% 4%
Other 4% 2%

Lesvos is not a typical Aegean Sea island. It is situated far away from the mainland (about 380 Km), it has its own customs, culture, long tradition and architecture and the inhabitants mainly work in agriculture, services and fishery. Lesvos is unknown to tourists and local authorities have never seriously attempted to attract them, through systematic campaigns. The majority of Greek tourists is influenced by friends and relatives in its decision to visit the island. Only a low percentage of Greeks has read something about it in tourist guides (10 %) and only 1% came to Lesvos through a travel agency. Non Greek tourists, on the other hand, have selected Lesvos because it was referred by friends or relatives (23%), through tourist guides and travel agencies ( 21% and 27% respectively). 24% has found the appropriate information in the Web and only 4% of the total sample has been informed by advertisements and campaigns (table 4).

Τable 4
Source of information about Lesvos Greeks Foreigners
Friends- Relatives 58% 23%
Touristic Guides 10% 21%
Travel Agencies 1% 27%
Internet 9% 24%
Advertisements in the media 2% 2%
Television programmes 3% 1%
Church 3% 0%
Programmes of social tourism 7% 1%
Other 7% 1%

Consequently, 32% of Greek tourists stay in friends and relatives houses, 37% in rented rooms and only 16% in hotels. Non Greek tourists prefer to stay in hotels (45%) and rented rooms (49%). Curiously enough, 3% of Greek tourists chose camping compared to 0% of foreigners. (table 5).

Table 5
Stay Greeks Foreigners
Hotels 16% 45%
Rented rooms 37% 49%
Camping 3% 0%
Touristic Mansions 0% 1%
Friends- Relatives 32% 4%
Monastery cells 4% 0%
Other 8% 1%

In comparison to other Greek places approximately half (52%) of the foreigners consider Lesvos better , whereas the Greeks in their majority (63%) believe that it is the same. (Table 6)

Table 6
Comparison to other places Greeks Foreigners
Better Condition 26% 52%
Same Condition 63% 46%
Worse Condition 11% 2%

The financial status of the tourists that visit Lesvos is in direct opposition when Greeks and foreigners are compared. In particular 41% of the Greek visitors believe that their income is not sufficient, on the other hand 46% of the foreigners are in the higher income bracket.(Table 7)

Table 7
Tourists' financial status Greeks Foreigners
I can’ t make ends meet 41% 3%
My income is sufficient 29% 19%
I live comfortably on my income 20% 32%
I earn much more than the average income 10% 46%

A very small percentage (Greeks 1,9%),(foreigers 5,7%) used a credit card or a loan to come on vacation (Table 8)

Table 8
Financial cover of vacation through loan or credit card
Yes No Total
Nationality Greek 1,9 98,2 100
Foreign 5,7 94,3 100

As we can see most of the visitors, both Greek (57,7%) and foreign (65,8%) got cultural and historical information about the island before their arrival. (Table 9)
Table 9
Before my arrival on Lesvos, I got information about Lesvos' s history and civilization
Yes No Total
Nationality Greek 57,7 42,3 100
Foreign 65,8 34,2 100

There is a very small percentage both from Greeks and foreigners that believe they were deceived on the island of Lesvos, but the vast majority of 85% of the Greeks and 92,6% of the foreigners had no complaints and were totally satisfied by local people and services. (Table 10)

Table 10
I believe that people on Lesvos tried to deceive me or take advantage of me
Yes No Total
Nationality Greek 15 85 100
Foreign 7,4 92,6 100


Comparing the cost of their stay on Lesvos 44% of the Greeks mentioned that it was cheaper than other Greek places they had visited, 51% that it was at the same level and only 5% thought it was more expensive. As far as the foreigners are concerned the figures are 37%, 59%, 4%, respectively. (Table 11)

Table 11
Comparison to other places Greeks Foreigners
Cheaper 44% 37%
Same level 51% 59%
More expensive 5% 4%

Specifically concerning the residential cost, 59% of the Greeks and 74% of the foreigners believed it was satisfactory. Going further 16% of the Greeks thought it was expensive and 10% of the foreigners thought it was cheap.(Table 12)

Table 12
Residential cost Greeks Foreigners
Very cheap 5% 3%
Quite cheap 6% 2%
Cheap 9% 10%
Satisfactory 59% 74%
Expensive 16% 9%
Quite expensive 4% 2%
Very expensive 1% 0%

The transportation costs were thought as either satisfactory or expensive by 36% of the Greeks, whereas 50% of the foreigners found the transportation satisfactory and 18% quite cheap. (Table 13)

Table 13
Transportation cost Greeks Foreigners
Very cheap 1% 9%
Quite cheap 3% 18%
Cheap 3% 17%
Satisfactory 36% 50%
Expensive 36% 4%
Quite expensive 11% 1%
Very expensive 10% 1%

The dieting cost was considered as satisfactory by 62% of the Greeks and 38% of the foreigners. A low number of 14% of the Greeks believed that it was expensive, contrary to 28% of the foreigners who believed that it was cheap. (Table 14)

Table 14
Eating cost Greeks Foreigners
Very cheap 2% 10%
Quite cheap 5% 20%
Cheap 14% 28%
Satisfactory 62% 38%
Expensive 14% 2%
Quite expensive 2% 1%
Very expensive 1% 1%

To continue, as far as the entertainment cost are concerned 60% of the Greeks as well as 52% of the foreigners mentioned that it was satisfactory. Only 1% of the foreigners and the Greeks thought it was very expensive.(Table 15)

Table 15
Entertainment cost Greeks Foreigners
Very cheap 3% 11%
Quite cheap 4% 15%
Cheap 18% 15%
Satisfactory 60% 52%
Expensive 11% 6%
Quite expensive 3% 0%
Very expensive 1% 1%

The vast majority of the Greeks and the foreigners felt absolutely safe (Greeks 46,9% and the foreigners 59,7%). A significant amount of people considered that they were very safe on the island (Greeks 30,8% and foreigners 31,8%). On the contrary only 1% of the Greeks didn’t feel safe and none of the foreigners had the feeling of peril. (Table 16)

Table 16
Sense of safety on Lesvos
Absolutely safe Very safe Relatively safe Little safe Not safeat all Total
Nationality Greek 46,9 30,8 20,9 0,3 1 100
Foreign 59,7 31,8 8,5 0 0 100


Most of the tourists that visited the island of Lesvos would come again on vacation, in particular 86,8% of the Greeks and 88,9% of the foreigners mentioned that they would come again. (Table 18)

Table 18
I would come to Lesvos again on vacation
Yes No Total
Nationality Greek 86,8 13,2 100
Foreign 88,9 11,1 100

Finally, 90,9% of the Greeks and 94% of the foreigners would recommend Lesvos to friends and relatives for their vacation, indicating that the overall feeling towards the island was more than satisfactory. (Table 19)

Table 19
I would recommend Lesvos for vacation to friends and relatives
Yes No Total
Nationality Greek 90,9 9,1 100
Foreign 94 6 100

Tourists were asked to complete an assessment questionnaire (Likert Scale 1 to 10) concerning their evaluations about places, services and hospitality. The Grand mean of tourists evaluation is 6,905, which is above average. However, considering the island’s natural beauty the present research suggests that there are many sectors which need immediate improvement, especially the road network and transportation. In table 22 mean tourist evaluation in various dimensions are recorded. The fact that both Greek and foreign tourists estimations were the same (6,85 and 6,96 respectively) enhance the objectivity of the evaluation.




Table 22:
Tourists evaluation of places, services and hospitality in Lesvos
Means
Nationality
Greeks Foreign
Residence for tourists 6,25 6,76
Road network and traffic signs 4,68 5,37
Means of transport into the island 4,86 5,53
Restaurants 7,29 7,82
Entertainment 6,52 5,98
Public services 6,04 6,18
Private services 6,79 6,76
Rent car offices 5,8 7,04
Cleanness 6,4 5,16
Ships 5,14 5,62
Hospitality of local residents 7,6 7,97
Service quality 6,97 7,75
Eagerness 7,24 7,98
Professionalism 6,23 7,92
Information access 6,52 6,68
Local history 8,17 7,34
Local culture 7,46 7,5
Local mores, tradition 7,74 7,34
Local products 8,63 7,53
Character of local people 7,2 7,73
Coasts\seas 7,61 7,05
Fauna\flora 8,14 7,12
Sightseeing\monuments\archeological sites 8 7,02
Water quality 6,37 7,04
Local dishes 8,18 7,85
Cosmopolitical character of the island 6,41 7,15
Total Mean 6,85 6,96
Grant total mean 6,905

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