ECOCLUB.com Team Blog
blogging about ecological & socially just tourism & living
greek tourism at the crossroads
Today we attended the long-awaited presentation of a new study – proposal for a new Greek Tourism Development Model, prepared by the greek association of tourism enterprises, SETE, which represents the interests of large tourism businesses. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, there was nothing new therein, apart from some truisms and neoliberal recipes for more golf, holiday homes, 5-star hotels and the removal of all ‘bureaucratic’ obstacles that scare (?) investors planning mega-resorts.
Although the proposal contains some telling statistics indicating that greek tourism has already reached stagnation – for example excessive hotel construction during 2000-2009 which has resulted in a 400,000 bed surplus with the highest increase 154% in 4 and 5-star hotels -- it fails to interpret these very numbers, arguing for more expansion, and more luxury hotels.
But what was particularly annoying and regressive was its critique of small-size (locally-owned) tourism businesses and of alternative forms of tourism, which it considers as a mere add-ons to the Sun-sea-sand model ‘which should not be abandoned’. Other key features are its total lack of attention to (serious) hotel worker issues , an arrogance towards elected governments including the strange demand for a permanent secretary for tourism which will not change when there is a government change (!) and its indifference towards trains and other forms of ecological transport, of ecotourism, agrotourism, of linking tourist consumption to local biological agriculture production. At least the importance of social networks and of the Internet is mentioned, possibly as a result of holding an online dialogue prior to the release of the study.
The study can be downloaded for free at http://www.greektourism2020.gr/fileadmin/GreekTourism2020/gt2020_documents/SETEbrochure.pdf
The presentation, was held in a packed old-fashioned ballroom at the historic, lavish Grand Bretagne hotel, which faces the Parliament, the hotel being a frequent (soft) target of demonstrators protesting austerity measures in recent months. Fittingly, it was raining heavily when the presentation ended, probably making the police happy as the next demonstration was about to start held, this time protesting the arrival of Avigdor Lieberman.
Meanwhile, under the pretext of the fiscal crisis / near bankrupcy and being pressured by the IMF and European lenders, the government is planning to use 'fast-track' procedures to circumvent environmental legislation and environmentalist protests and sell large swaths of public property to mega-resort golf and holiday home developers. Infamous planned pharaonic projects include 'Cavo Sidero' in Crete and 'Atalanti Hills' in Fthiotida prefecture which have both been successfully delayed so far by local environmentalists. Both projects, are undertaken by well-connected foreign firms, masquerading as 'green-friendly' thanks to the assistance of famous international consultants. More later...