Planeta.com Host Ron Mader, ECOCLUB.com Editor Antonis Petropoulos and Members Natali Dologlou, Aivar Ruukel, Sudipta Kiran Sarkar and Chris Milnes discuss responsible travel in Greece, Estonia, Malaysia and the United States in the context of Planeta.com Responsible Tourism Week 2016 :
ECOCLUB.com Team Blog
While international tourist arrivals are falling for a second consecutive year and accommodation rates slashed to bargain levels, the government’s neoliberal agenda includes the long-lease of at least 40 “uninhabited” islands for “tourism development” ignoring the fact that most are considered important bird and marine conservation areas and some are actually located within marine protected areas. In fact some in the government, dreaming of billions of euros in proceeds, would have liked to sell these islands outright. However, for the time being this is not quite legit / allowed by the constitution (money - launderers beware) - although exceptions exist such as a few small private islands (famously Skorpios and Spetsopoula) owned by heirs of shipping magnates, lesser known but richer industrialists and some others incredulously claimed by heirs of traditional goat herdsmen-boatsmen perpetually looking for gullible buyers.
Domestic tourism in particular has taken a big hit, reflected in - among other things - the large losses of ferry operators and the huge number of hotels of all sizes which are for sale and up for grabs by foreign investor funds, offshore schemes and assorted money-launderers.
Other government plans include the abolition of the unemployment benefit paid by the state to hotel workers - the tourism season in most Greek destinations is just 3 months long and hotel employees are usually laid off in October to be rehired the following June - and the selling-off of large state-owned properties for tourism development such as the Afantou estate in Rhodes and the area of the old Athens airport in Elliniko.
An excellent example of how ecological farm tourism can help revive the real, local economy in Greece. We want more of this, and not at all pharaonic mega-tourism & real estate projects or oil platforms in the Aegean or Ionian.
Remembering the way tabloids were treating Athens in the run up to the 2004 Olympics (which always are, like all mega-events, a mega-waste) a certain schadenfreude could be expected from Athenians, but on the contrary they feel a sense of solidarity with Londoners and the UK tourism sector who seem to be experiencing the same effects of neoliberal globalisation - high youth unemployment, social injustice, racism, police brutality, increased crime, all leading, mathematically, to riots.
I have found the reaction of the London Greens (here and here) interesting and measured, while a post in Red Pepper also seems to put the finger in the wounds. Let us hope that neoliberal government policies will be reversed soon, both in UK and in Greece.