Giannis Kalogeris, 26 years old, was born and raised in Chania Crete. He studied civil engineering at the National Technical University of Athens and is currently working at Terna S.A. as a construction site engineer for the construction of the New Heraklion International Airport. The energetic and talented young man is one of the many of the new generation of Cretans who turn love of homeland into action, in his case, building the Great Island’s future literally and figuratively.
The National Herald: Why do tourists choose Crete?
Giannis Kalogeris: Crete is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe thanks to the great variety of experiences that it offers to its visitors. Its exceptional natural beauty is one of its strong assets – you will find beautiful beaches, gorgeous gorges, unique mountainous regions, then and add to these archeological sites of a glorious past, distinct traditional food, and incomparable hospitality.
TNH: Can you tell us about the project of the new Heraklion Airport?
GK: The project of the new International Airport began on February 2020 and is expected to be completed in 2025 by Ariadne Airport Group, a consortium of the Greek firm Terna S.A. and the Indian company GMR Airports Ltd. It is actually under construction in Kastelli village in the east central part of the prefecture of Heraklion. The airport project comprises the main 72,000m2 five-floor building (terminal), 13,000m2 of which will be given for commercial use and 1,000m2 for permanent exhibition areas, and for 11 buildings and facilities necessary for its every day operations. Furthermore, the project involves two main roads that will connect the airport to Crete’s Highways. An 18km road of two branches with two traffic lanes in each direction towards the North Highway and another, 6km long, towards the South Highway.
TNH: How important is the new project for tourism, not just for Crete, but Greece generally?
GK: The new Heraklion airport will be the third largest and busiest international airport in Greece and a hub for many Greek and international airlines, with a capacity of more than six million passengers a year. By serving an always increasing number of international tourists it is expected to contribute to the development of Greece’s tourism industry as well. Such being the case, it is necessary that a modern solution be provided that will satisfy the needs of any traveler. It is undeniable that the airport reflects the first and the last impression of the visitors, thus it is important that we offer them a warm welcome and a last taste that will linger in their memory.
TNH: Is the infrastructure of Crete up to the task of welcoming the millions of tourists sure to come if COVID-19 allows?
GK: In recent decades Crete has successfully welcomed millions of tourists from all over the world. I am confident therefore that, even this year that is so critical for tourism, the people of Crete will respond to this challenge with consistency and responsibility. The Heraklion and Chania Ports are considered to be of great importance for Crete’s tourism, alongside the Daskalogiannis Airport in Chania that has been recently renovated and extended.
TNH: What is the biggest challenge for tourism in Crete? Can it be addressed – if so, how?
GK: Tourism is the vital pillar of Crete’s economy, a sector that injects dynamism into the island. This is the very reason why it requires a holistic and meticulously studied approach on many domains: infrastructure, housing, services of any kind. It is the characteristic of our people to always try to do their best under any circumstances. This is what we will continue to do in order to reward our visitors for their choice and persuade them that is worthwhile visiting us again.