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Crete: Hot air balloon flights over the Lassithi plateau boost tourism

Featured Crete: Hot air balloon flights over the Lassithi plateau boost tourism

Local authorities chose the hot air balloon flights to promote the Lassithi Plateau, its special geomorphology, and to boost tourist flows, following a different approach, that for those who dare, has become an obsession.

Crete is the first region in Greece to try this activity, the hot air balloon flights, over the plain of the Lassithi Plateau, with a view of the Lassithi Mountains, so as to boost tourism on the island.

Three hot air balloons are already flying

Speaking to Athens Macedonian News Agency (ANA), the mayor of Lassithi Plateau, Mr Yannis Stefanakis, explained that the authorities started thinking the possibility of hot air balloon flights a year ago.

“We relaized that this activity can be done in Crete and so we started searching the right people to help us with this project. Our goal is to highlight the tourism product of the region through different activities and I think that the hot air ballon flights is one of the best” said Mr Stefanakis who added that this activity brings added value, both for those who dare to do it and for those who watch this amazing spectacle, as well. According to Mr. Stefanakis, along with the test flights, since last April, the process of issuing the permits began, which was complex, as the area is classified as an area of outstanding natural beauty and a protected area NATURA 2000. The issuing of the permit was achieved a month ago and now three balloons, on which there can be 4-12 people, fly over the Lassithi Plateau.

It adds a special value to the area

“The minimum altitude of the plain, is at 800 meters and reaches up to 2,148 meters. The view from the balloon is unique, as the plain with a perimeter of 24 kilometres is round and the balloon can take off depending on the wind direction. It can take off from the north, south, east or west and move over the plain. This is what essentially gives a special value to our region and this is what the balloons can take advantage of,” added the Mayor of the Lassithi Plateau.

The hot air balloon flights on the Lassithi Plateau last about an hour and flights take place either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

“Through these activities we are trying to boost tourism, which, for us, is connected to the primary sector. For this reason, in addition to the view from the balloon that one can enjoy, immediately afterwards, they can have a meal tasting the traditional products of the region,” added Mr Stefanakis who concluded by saying that “the promotion of the primary sector through tourism is the policy that our municipality follows concerning actions with an environmental footprint, which are  the most appropriate ones  for our region”.