Naked profiteering on the beach

The beaches on the coastline stretching from Alimos to Varkiza have definitely improved over the past few years. Indeed, the Psyttaleia waste treatment plant has made waters cleaner. But the private businesses operating beach resorts have also invested in and cared for the coastline, contributing significantly to its improvement. This is only one side of the coin. There is a price Athenians must pay to get into these beach resorts. The ticket to enter the pay beaches Alimos, Voula A and B, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza ranges from 5 to 15 euros per person. In cases where the entry ticket is cheaper, visitors are usually charged extra for umbrellas and deck chairs. Drivers also have to pay 6 to 9 euros for parking space. Since coffee and refreshments are also expensive, the entire price tag for a day at the beach would turn away low-income families and turn off even middle-income ones. A four-member family must pay some 60 euros for a beach visit. The price tag is too high for a low- or medium-income household. Regular visits are out of the question. That wouldn’t matter so much if people had other beach options. Only a few open beaches remain on the Attica coastline, and that raises a social and constitutional question. People’s constitutional right to having free access to the sea has been violated. As usual, we have gone from one extreme to the other in our beaches. Instead of abandoning our public beaches, we are now virtually privatizing them. Given the number of open-access beaches, practical solutions must be found. The state must secure free access to several beaches so that the less well-off can also enjoy the sea. Businesses that run pay beaches must reconsider their pricing policies. There is nothing wrong with making a profit, but the current situation effectively amounts to naked profiteering.

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