New legislation being drafted by the Tourism Ministry paves the way for seaside hotels to make commercial use of the entirety – rather than a portion – of the beach they face on.
In places like the Aegean islands of Crete, Kos and Rhodes where large stretches of the coast are already given over to successive hotel units, this will effectively mean that the public will be deprived of its right to free access to the water, having to pay an admission fee or a rental fee for an umbrella and sun lounger.
While hotels are allowed to lease a section of the beach adjacent to their facility and develop it for commercial use with loungers, bars, restaurants or watersports facilities, the new legislation seeks to lift restrictions on these leases.
It also increases the surface area of a beach that can be developed by a non-hotel business from 40% to 50% and raises the cap on the size of facilities offering amenities from 300 to 500 square meters. These changes are permanent and are not related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Defending the decision in its accompanying report, the ministry argues that the hotels standing to benefit from the new legislation have made “significant investments and are a key element of the country’s tourism development.”
The draft bill also seeks to facilitate so-called Integrated Tourism Development Areas (POTA) by allowing them to include public forest land, roads, streams or plots in the calculation of their total surface area, thereby allowing them larger scope in terms of zoning restrictions.