Corfu, the island that introduced tourism in Greece

The Corfu Experience / Private tours Corfu

In 1950, tourism was not developed on the island of Corfu yet, although “Club Méditerranée” established on Corfu a bit later was a revolutionary concept in terms of the tourism culture of the island of that period and marked the dawning of a new era, that of the development of tourism sector on the island of Corfu and Greece in general.

“Club Méditerranée” was the third “vacation village” of this kind, launched by the French businessman Gérard Blitz. The first “Club Méditerranée” opened in Mallorca in 1950, operating only for 1 year, since the dictator of Spain Franco thought that this vacation village was not operating in accordance with honest practices of that era and finally it was closed. The second village opened in Italy and the third one on the beach of Dassia, Corfu in 1952. Firstly, “Club Méditerranée” was considered to offer an alternative way of holidays, focused on well-being and life close to nature and not luxury.

The vacation village resembled a vast campsite set amidst lush vegetation, containing 500 straw huts-houses, with no sources of electricity. These kind-of-straw-huts houses could accommodate up to 3 people each. This concept of holidays gained the attention of visitors and multiplied the number of visitors to Corfu.

There were also dress codes at “Club Méditerranée”, for example guests but also staff members were obliged to wear a cover-up. For this reason, the production of swimsuits and cover-ups increased enormously, since seamstresses, who did not belong to the staff members of “Club Méditerranée”, used to spend all day running around to sew new swimsuits and cover-ups for tourists. These dress code rules and the extremely free way of live made Corfiots be shocked, since people used to be more conservative.

Moreover, another innovation launched by “Club Méditerranée” was a new method of payment, namely with plastic money. Given the fact that tourists used to wear only swimsuits and cover-ups, there was the need of inventing a new method of payment.

Therefore they created a new method of payment, the use of beads for paying. Each bead represented a certain amount of money, for example the red one was 10 drachmas, the green one was 15 drachmas etc.. Well, tourists used to use the bracelets with beads as jewelry as well. “Club Méditerranée”, founded in 1952, was the first to establish the concept of the “all-inclusive” holiday, launched a new method of payment with plastic money and removed all social barriers of that period.

Most of the tourists of “Club Méditerranée” were French, though new visitors used to come at the Club every week. When a new group of visitors was arriving, there was a celebration for this at the port. Old tourists used to welcome the newcomers with songs and dancing events. The tanned tourists used to welcome the not tanned ones, since the former had a tan from all the time they have spent on the island.

This new trend with the straw huts-houses lasted for about 25 years. The legendary “Club Méditerranée” made Corfu widely known and contributed to the development of tourism on the island.

Since then the tourism on Corfu has been increasing rapidly. Numerous large and smaller hotels, great facilities and tourist agencies have been founded as well as the tourism culture of Corfu has widely developed, thus making Corfu rank among the greatest destinations worldwide.