Home » today » Business » Hypertourism threatens cities and islands with “annihilation”. – 2024-04-22 23:15:17

Hypertourism threatens cities and islands with “annihilation”. – 2024-04-22 23:15:17

They live in caves, in the absence of cheap housing, go on hunger strike and create a human chain in tourist spots. The people of Tenerife complain about the rampant tourism that has plagued the area, creating a series of serious practical issues and altering the physiognomy and character of their town’s settlements. And if anyone expected that the case of the islands of the Spanish complex is the only one, it is enough to take a look at popular cities in Europe that have become synonymous with mass tourism. In Ibiza, residents and workers are evicted, with many being forced to live in their cars, while the alternative Amsterdam just a few 24 hours ago decided to ban the construction of new hotel buildings, with the aim of combating mass tourism.

However, how far are all these effects that are already experienced by very touristic areas of the world from the Greek reality? Unfortunately, hypertourism has begun to create serious problems in areas of our country that are “swamped” by visitors, having focused most of the time on special tourist models, with experts warning that some of them are already… lost business.

In the “flagship” of Greek tourism, Mykonos, it seems that the “spoils” of choosing a pretentious tourist model aimed at a few are already reaching. Moreover, a pan-European survey in August 2023 showed that the product and services offered by the destination do not leave visitors satisfied, with over-tourism having “destroyed” part of the island’s character.

The myth of Santorini

The Oia sunset that enchants millions of visitors, the thousands-photographed Caldera and the volcano have created a tourist legend around Santorini. A myth, however, that will begin to collapse if immediate measures are not taken. Just look at two numbers: In 2012 the island welcomed 1.7 million visitors. In 2023 this number doubled. As the president of the Municipal Council and president of the municipality’s Tourism Committee points out in “Vima”, Georgia Law, Santorini is under great pressure both on its infrastructure and settlements as well as on its environment due to the large volume of visitors it welcomes every year. “The widespread and irrational unplanned building, the overexploitation of natural resources create significant problems. Don’t forget that Santorini is an arid place, so desalination must be done to have water. The demand for desalinated water is increasing at an alarming rate and in general tourism development is not commensurate with the scale of the place and the carrying capacity of the island, which we have long since outgrown.». Now the setting that is taking shape on the island creates urban-type issues – waste, traffic – and an environment that eventually becomes repulsive for residents and visitors.

«A happy resident means a happy visitor and since the main economic activity of the island is tourism we should preserve it, creating a new sustainable model that will focus on cultural resources, the geo-environment, which is our strategic advantage, but also on local agricultural products” continues.

Sifnos, Serifos, Folegandros

The escalating environmental disaster seems to be affecting all three Cyclades islands with their white houses and “lacy” beaches. In fact, they are among the seven most endangered monuments and cultural heritage sites in Europe for 2024 chosen by Europa Nostra, the European voice of civil society committed to the preservation and promotion of cultural and natural heritage, and the Institute of European Investment Bank (EIB).

But are these islands really in danger? The lack of measures and the fact that there is no specific urban plan makes Serifos to be at a limit point. The physiognomy of the island has changed in 20 years, with the differences now being evident. “Livadakia, one of the most famous beaches of the island, next to the port, 20 years ago was completely undeveloped. Today, if you visit it, you will find that there is not a single centimeter free. There is saturation, with the proliferation of tourist houses, villas and accommodation» explains the mayor of Serifos Konstantinos Revinthis.

The fear that is now being expressed more and more loudly and by more and more people is that because of over-tourism the Greek islands will become two-speed. “In the winter months they will tend towards desertification since for the permanent residents life will have become expensive, housing will be unaffordable and the business model will be fully oriented towards tourism. So this is not sustainable. The place must be a conscious choice for both the resident and the visitor and we must escape from the monoculture of tourism” emphasizes Mr. Revinthis.

But it is not only the islands that are beginning to lose their character from the unconditional tourist development. Nafplio has changed its face in just two decades. In fact, at the center of this distressing – as residents characterize it – change is the old town of Nafplio, where until the 80s its streets and alleys were bustling with life. Today, only 82 permanent residents – based on last year’s E1 declarations to the Tax Office – are left.

For the mathematician in the city’s Lyceum and native of Nafplio, Mr. All Koini, this change started in the early 90s. “Almost all the buildings in the old town were declared listed in the mid-1980s. This partly made it difficult for the owners who wanted to renovate them and make them residential. A European program in 1992, however, made it possible to turn the preserved properties into pensions, with a 40% subsidy and a 40% low-interest loan. This was also the beginning of the end for the old city, as most people joined the specific program.”

Therefore, where there were 12 grocers and six butchers in the old town, today there is not a single one. Doctors, greengrocers, printers and every professional activity not related to tourism were forced into… eviction. Today, if one walks in the old town of Nafplio, he will see, among the restaurants, cafes and bars, two notary offices, two pharmacies and two bookstores. “The professionals moved, but so did the residents, who found shelter in the districts of the new city and the surrounding villages». In the last seven years or so, there has been a second exodus of residents, according to Mr. Koinis, due to the short-term lease.

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