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Overtourism hurts Santorini, says European Parliament report

ILIAS BELLOS

TAGS: Tourism

The European Parliament’s Transport Committee blasted Greek authorities on Thursday for allowing tourism on Santorini – one of the country’s top holiday destinations – to reach saturation point, saying that the island’s character and social fabric have been distorted by the uncontrolled daily flows of tens of thousands of tourists.

A report by the Transport Committee, which was completed in October and published yesterday, said that “the lack of tourism governance and strategic cooperation between local and national authorities might put the future of the destination at risk.”

It added that the “implementation of effective policies aimed at managing and regulating increasing tourism flows is needed in order to ease the negative consequences of overtourism on the local community. That is necessary to preserve the image of the destination, prevent deterioration, and safeguard the future tourism attractiveness of the island.”

The figures included in the report are quite staggering: The number of overnight stays on the Cycladic island have soared 66 percent in five years, rising from 3.3 million in 2012 to 5.5 million in 2017. Cruise passengers exceed 2,000 per day, reaching 18,000 at peak season.

Assessing the response of the Greek authorities, the study notes that “in the last decades, tourism development in Santorini lacked a strategic framework and effective planning. The destination suffered from inadequate support by the public sector in developing and implementing effective policies aimed at managing and regulating increasing tourism flows.”

It also stresses that “recently, local authorities have been sounding the alarm, but they mostly rely on the central government, while they have limited powers and resources,” and that “one of the few concrete measures taken was a daily cap on cruise passengers, set at an 8,000 person per day.”

The report also cites data from the European Commission’s Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies to note that, besides Santorini, the Ionian Islands and the Peloponnese are also “at a high risk of overtourism.”

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