Mayor: ‘A matter of political will’

Santorini has been a popular tourist destination since the 1980s. Tourism on the island has in fact spiralled out of control. Rooms for rent, both legal and illegal, abound, hundreds of thousands of tourists descend on the island every summer and there are countless charter flights and cruise ships. The sinking of the Sea Diamond threatened to harm the island’s high profile tourist image which is why the island’s mayor insisted on eliminating the pollution threat by pumping the fuel from the wreck. Indeed, efforts to remove signs of the slick were impressive just before the tourist season began. The net at the entrance to the port of Athinio is all that is left to remind visitors of the incident. The tourist season is now over but the shipwreck remains at a depth of 130 meters, just a stone’s throw from the shore. Mayor Angelos Roussos believes that the pumping and salvage of the ship is a matter of political will. A campaign is being prepared to press the government into taking action. Yiannis Gratsias, President of the Thira Municipal Port Fund, did not mince his words, «If the tug boat had arrived earlier, the ship would have been saved; the company delayed by entering into negotiations.»