NEWS

Zakynthos mayor under pressure to reopen iconic beach ahead of tourist season

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Local businesspeople on Zakynthos are putting pressure on mayor Pavlos Kolokotsas to allow full access to the famous Navagio (shipwreck) beach on the island’s northwestern coast, where a landslide in September last year injured one tourist.

Kolokotsas recently called a meeting of the island’s municipal council to present a report filed by a geology expert on the measures that should be taken to ensure the safety of visitors.

Efthimios Lekkas, director of the Geology and Geoenvironment Faculty at Athens University, proposed a new visitor flow management strategy that will divide the beach into three separate zones. Access to the first zone will be free under conditions. A second, supervised zone will be restricted after rainfall or earthquake. Finally, a third zone will be closed off to all visitors.

The report, which has been distributed to local authorities, also calls for special signs to be put up on the beach informing tourists of the restrictions at the site which will be under constant monitoring by the authorities.

Local businessmen are against the partial reopening. One of their representatives at the council meeting proposed having a person on the beach to supervise the site and enforce the measures foreseen in the Lekkas report and promised to have a lifeguard vessel in the area.

In an effort to curb reactions, the mayor said Zakynthos’ port authority is refusing to reopen the beach until it receives “some document from a state agency” that allows the public to return to Navagio.

He agreed, however, to set up a committee to discuss a way forward.

“We are under pressure by everyone and this is why I am inviting them at my office this week,” he said, adding that the local prosecutor asked him to put up warning signs in the area.

Following a visit by a team of scientists from the University of Athens a few days ago, who marked part of the beach as off-limits, the municipality announced that a section would again be opened to the public.