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Santorini holidays all year round

- by Dabs Banner

The popular holiday island of Santorini hopes to pave the way in making the Greek Islands a year-round holiday destination.

Island authorities have agreed to promote Santorini as a winter holiday break and cash in on the increased number of flights and ferries.

Santorini mayor Anastasios-Nikolaos Zorzos told a meeting in the resort of Firostefani: "Santorini has all the requirements in place to attract visitors throughout the year and has the agreement of all parties involved to immediately work towards extending the tourist season."

Santorini has long been one of the most popular summer holiday islands with thousands of visitors arriving during the summer months, including many thousands of cruise visitors and day trippers.

The island's volcanic origins have given it a unique spectacular landscape that has turned the Greek island of Santorini into one of the world's top summer holiday destinations.

Now increased ferry arrivals, in particular, cheap direct flights from Europe by no-frills airlines like easyJet and Ryanair and the plans for seaplane flights in 2016, has given tourism officials the chance to extend the holiday season throughout the year.

Santorini Hoteliers Association President Manolis Karamolegos said sheer market demand for accommodation had led to the decision.

He said Santorini has the opportunity to work closely with tourism firms and holiday booking platforms to ensure that accommodation and transport links are synchronised to that all of the island's services, including rooms, flights, charters, cruises and transfers can be arranged in advance.

The island certainly has plenty to offer the out-of-season visitor. There are not only the attractive villages perched along the dramatic rim of the volcano caldera, offering spectacular sunset sights but a host of other island attractions too.

The archaeological attractions of Akrotiri are world famous. One of the finest and best preserved archaeological sites in the whole of Greece is enclosed by a massive roof structure, recently reopened to visitors.

The former Minoan city was buried under volcanic ash around 1500 BC and discovered in the 1860's. Excavations brought to light paved lanes lined with houses full of artefacts in a remarkable state of preservation as well as very fine murals and wall frescos.

Another ancient site inland from Kamari is Ancient Thira, a post-Minoan settlement with exhilarating views and a dizzying drop to the sea below. The site has an early Christian basilica, ruins of temples and houses, a huge amphitheatre, rock carvings and even some 3,000-year-old graffiti.

Santorini is also famous for its cuisine. The mineral-rich volcanic rock has made the white wines from Santorini much sought after. Many Santorini vines are more than 100 years old, having survived deadly diseases that ravaged crops on many other Greek islands.

The island of Santorini is also known for its famous fava beans, its very small cherry tomatoes and for its 'chloro' goat milk cheeses.

Also popular with visitors are the boat excursions to the active volcanic islets that sit in the Santorini caldera. The islets of Palia Kameni and Nia Kameni are still active, with a crater on the Nia islet being formed in only 1950.

The islet of Thirassia is the other islet, once part of Santorini island, has an attractive port, a fertile inland plateau and a shingle beach at Korfos.

Santorini, like Mykonos, has seen visitor numbers increase sharply over the last few years. Most hotels on Santorini are one or two star but the higher end four to five-star hotels provide rooms for up to 40% of island visitors. Santorini enjoys high levels of international awareness are a positioned well in the 'luxury' market.

The benefits of making Santorini an all-year-round Greek Island holiday destination are obvious, especially with higher-end visitors, improved tourism services, a steady year-round business operation and more jobs for the islanders.