Battle for the seashores: Greek islanders battle for entry

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Anybody who hits the seashore in Greece as of late could have nice issue discovering a spot on the sand to unfold out a towel or unroll a seashore mat. The uncontrolled unfold of solar lounger leases signifies that empty area on Greek seashores is now uncommon. (Additionally Learn | Greece plans hourly caps on vacationers go to to historic Acropolis of Athens)

A familiar sight on Greek beaches: Identical sun loungers and umbrellas fill almost the entire beach, right up to the shoreline. (Konstantinos Bizas/DW)
A well-known sight on Greek seashores: Similar solar loungers and umbrellas fill nearly the complete seashore, proper as much as the shoreline. (Konstantinos Bizas/DW)

On seashores up and down the nation, row upon row of an identical solar loungers and seashore umbrellas block the view of the ocean. They’ve been put there by entrepreneurs, hoteliers and seashore bar/café house owners in Greece who generally cost extortionate charges for his or her rental. A luxurious lounger on the island of Paros within the Cyclades can value as much as €120 ($131) per day.

But it surely’s not only a drawback of a scarcity of area: In some vacationer areas in Greece, individuals who do not need to pay the excessive rental costs for solar loungers — or can’t afford to take action — are usually not allowed onto the seashores in any respect.

On Paros, the locals have had sufficient and have began to battle again. They’re decided to “reclaim the seashore.” A grass-roots motion recognized unofficially because the “towel motion” is protesting the unlawful privatization of seashores on Paros and different Greek islands.

Defending individuals’s proper to seashore entry

“We defend the precise of the residents and guests of our island to have free entry to the seashores we love,” the Paros Residents’ Motion for Free Seashores wrote on its Fb web page. “The Greek summer time is a part of our soul, it’s a part of our id: let’s not let anybody take it away from us!”

There was a wave of solidarity on social media, with messages of assist and recommendation flooding in from all around the nation.

No room on the seashore

Greek media have dubbed the protest “the seashore towel revolt,” however Konstantinos Bizas, prefect of Paros and the neighboring island of Antiparos, would not like this phrase and prefers to confer with the initiative by its chosen title, the Paros Residents’ Motion for Free Seashores. In any case, that’s precisely what the motion is about: Retaining the island’s seashores open to the general public.

“By legislation, solely 50% of area on a seashore may be leased out for personal operation; the remaining 50% should stay free and open. Within the case of a nature conservation space, solely 30% may be leased out,” he instructed DW.

Common Greek island

Paros is the third-largest island within the Cyclades and is located proper subsequent to the bigger island of Naxos. It has a inhabitants of 14,000 and has over 700 vacationer operations providing 25,000 beds. An extra 10,000 beds can be found through Airbnb.)

Based on official statistics, some 750,000 vacationers visited the island final 12 months, attracted by its quite a few stunning seashores, of which 10 are significantly in style. Bars, cafes and eating places have been opened on these seashores and have progressively expanded and unfold, leaving no free area on the sand.

Shoreline legislation just isn’t being enforced

Retired trainer Christos Georgousis is without doubt one of the founders of the initiative, which works along with the Archilochos Cultural Affiliation to guard the seashores and guarantee free entry to the ocean. He says that the scenario on the in style vacation island has gotten utterly uncontrolled. For 2 years now, he provides, nobody has monitored whether or not rules are being complied with.

Georgousis determined that the time had come to behave and in early June invited representatives of the native authorities and the opposition within the native council to a gathering to debate potential options. About 200 individuals attended.

Locals protest unlawful privatization

On the finish of July, the primary two demonstrations passed off on seashores on the island. Some 300 and 400 individuals respectively took half, with a number of holding up massive “reclaim the seashore” banners. Locals had been joined by foreigners who both reside on the island or go to it often. The protests have since unfold to the islands of Naxos and Serifos.

“The residents’ motion just isn’t concentrating on vacationers or entrepreneurs,” movie director Panos Kekas instructed DW. All of the activists need, he harassed, is that the legislation of the land is revered, specifically that half of all seashores stay freed from umbrellas and solar loungers in order that locals and vacationers alike can benefit from the sea and nature.

Checks are usually not being carried out

The people who find themselves energetic within the grass-roots motion come from all events, walks of life and age teams, says secondary faculty trainer and activist Tasos Kasapidis. “Members of the motion posted information from the authorities on the web and discovered that solely 7,500 sq. meters [80,700 square foot] of seashore on Paros had been leased out to businesspeople, however that they’ve occupied a complete of 18,500 sq. meters.”

This creeping privatization of Greece’s seashores is an issue not solely on Paros however throughout the nation. Throughout, resorts and strand bars are usually not limiting themselves to the areas they’re leasing however have expanded illegally. They’ve been ready to take action as a result of the authorities are usually not finishing up the stipulated checks.

Based on Greek legislation, seashores are public property and might solely be rented out by native or different competent authorities in very particular circumstances. However the authorities do not at all times perform the requisite inspections — whether or not it’s as a result of they do not need to lose assist or whether or not sure entrepreneurs are associated to or pals with native politicians. Regardless of the purpose, the upshot is {that a} small group of persons are making a revenue on the expense of a big a part of native society.

Protests are bearing fruit

Regardless of all this, the Paros Residents’ Motion for Free Seashores has achieved lots in simply two months. Greek Finance Minister Kostis Hatzidakis pledged final week to step up inspections and determine unlawful operations, saying “We is not going to surrender the seashores to anybody.”

Since then, seashore umbrellas and solar loungers have been faraway from the favored Santa Maria seashore on the northeastern coast of Paros and three businesspeople have been arrested and charged.

A public prosecutor from Athens will now journey to the island to evaluate the scenario, and a rare assembly of the native authority will examine the matter.

Appropriately, the activists celebrated their success by throwing a celebration on Santa Maria seashore.

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