Local communities are saying, ‘Enough is enough’

Local communities are saying, ‘Enough is enough’

For those of us who spent our summers on Mykonos in the 1980s and 90s, the sight of the Principote club and restaurant on Panormos Beach is nothing short of shocking: a sprawling installation of sofas, cushions emblazoned with gold crowns and, at one point, even carpets on a gorgeous beach where once there was nothing, no loungers nor even umbrellas.

Now the owners are racing against the clock to prevent their illegal structures from being demolished and to wriggle out of the fines they’ve been slapped with, before “the season” begins. The same is happening at Nammos, which has repeatedly been cited for tax evasion and is notorious for flouting the rules.

Why, though, would anyone want to walk on a carpet when getting in or out of the water? Whose aesthetic dictates that beach clubs must play deafening music so that beachgoers can have a good time? Who wants sushi in 40-degree heat? Who needs to land their helicopter right by the beach? Why are so many tiny swimming pools being built all over the Greek islands, when the sea and their beaches are among the loveliest in the world?

Such questions may seem obvious, but they still have not been adequately addressed.

Trash piles outside overflowing garbage bins in the summer months because popular tourist destinations lack the infrastructure to deal with the surge in the volume of waste. Sewers often overflow because sewerage systems struggle with increased demand. Traffic jams form in places that are almost deserted in winter. The proprietors of pokey hotels and rooms-to-let that have been “upgraded” to include a dollop of free shampoo and patchy Wi-Fi exploit the rising cost of everything and the shortage of beds to charge whatever they want. And restaurants appear to be in competition for the worst-quality ingredients and worst service.

Local communities are starting to shout: “Enough is enough! We cannot take any more visitors,” but the visitors just keep coming, hypnotized by the beauty and blind to the ugliness.

On Sifnos, residents and friends of the island have joined forces to stop the expansion of new hotels and homes being dug into the natural landscape and the construction of swimming pools. That in itself, however, is a big part of the problem. Because here in Greece, such places are saved thanks to citizens with sensibilities and good taste – often driven by the purely cynical motive of protecting the value of their own assets – rather than by a central philosophy and plan for a sustainable model of tourism development. 

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.