New plan to curb tourism development

A special zoning plan for tourism, which aims to curb construction on islands and coastlines that are already heavily developed but to encourage projects in other areas, is being tweaked by experts and will be submitted for public consultation in a few weeks’ time. The bill, a revised version of legislation drawn up by the previous conservative government, also foresees the closure of old hotels and the abolition of a controversial plan to encourage the construction of «tourist villages» with apartments for sale to tourists seeking holiday homes. According to the director of land zoning at the Environment Ministry, Polyxeni Zeikou, the new legislative framework will seek to determine the relative potential of various coastal zones for development with the aim of ensuring that «saturated» areas, as seen on Crete, Rhodes and Kos, are not subject to more construction. Other factors, such as the percentage of the local population employed in the tourism sector, will also be taken into account when determining which areas can be subject to further development, Zeikou said. Experts point out that at least a third of the dozens of new hotels constructed over the past few years have been in the southern Aegean and on Crete. According to Rea Kalokardou, a town-planning expert, around 60 percent of all tourist accommodation is situated on the islands. A zoning plan for tourism heralded by the previous New Democracy government in 2008 came under fire by conservationists, civil engineers and even entrepreneurs. Critics said the plan did not contain safeguards to protect Greece from the excessive construction that has ruined much of Spain.