Tourism zoning plan’s flaws

Country split into five tiers depending on ratio of hotel beds per the local population

Tourism zoning plan’s flaws

Tourism is the absolute dominator in Greece’s zoning plans, with hardly any restrictions imposed, as seen in the text of the new Special Zoning Plan for Tourism put up for public consultation on Wednesday.

The main feature of the framework is the promotion of large tourist facilities (with hotels and tourist villages with villas) which are essentially allowed everywhere, even in protected areas and on uninhabited islands. Notably, in the saturated tourist areas no substantial restriction is foreseen on the creation of new tourism units, beyond the type of new beds (only 4 or 5 stars), while the quotas that existed for the large tourist units on the islands have disappeared.

Although the third in a row, this draft by the ministries of Environment and Tourism will essentially be the first, as the previous two frameworks (2009 and 2013) were annulled by the Council of State.

The new framework divides the Greek area into five tiers, depending on tourism development. This classification is done only on the basis of the ratio of tourist beds to permanent population – i.e. not taking into account short-term rentals. It is also done at municipal unit level (1,034), with saturated areas (“controlled areas”) coming to 18, developed numbering 84, developing 139, areas with potential for development 265 and undeveloped 528.

Large tourism developments are facilitated, while “organized resorts” are prohibited only on rocky islets and uninhabited islands, a short distance from sea borders. Nowhere does the new framework set restrictions on the installation or quotas, but only separates them into “normal” and “soft,” with the latter having half the (but still high) construction rate.

Although concerns about overtourism are growing, the framework does not seem to take them into account, as even in places set aside as “controlled areas” new 4-5 star hotel units are allowed, only with more space. 

Also, just a few areas are characterized as saturated: in the Cyclades only Mykonos and Santorini, two small sections in Syros and Tinos, but not Paros, Antiparos or Ano Koufonisi.

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