Greek Tourism News
For one more summer (June 1 to August 31, 2022) it will be illegal for everyone including hoteliers to refill resort swimming pools due to water scarcity on the island. The ban was first introduced in 2018 and also prohibits refill by water trucks arriving from other places. A EUR 10k fine applies. Why does an island with magnificent beaches need so many swimming pools anyway?
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High seasonality is a characteristic of Greek Tourism, especially in island destinations, and the norm is for hotel employees to be made redundant at the end of September and rehired when hotels reopen, usually on Easter. However, two Zante hotels owned by a large US investment management company, did not want to rehire (or pay) around 200 employees earlier than the 10th of June using the pretext of being shut for renovations and a five-star upgrade. After a one month strike and local support, and despite a new law that allows hoteliers not to pay employees during renovations, the hotel workers succeeded in signing a sectoral collective bargaining agreement so that they can be employed from May 10 to October 31.
Pavlopetri (Paul's Stone), discovered in 1967, and one of the oldest submerged lost cities in the world, sunk following a series of earthquakes around 1,000 BCE. The works were funded by the European Union's INHERIT-MED programme.The Municipality of Elafonissos announced that the first underwater routes at Pavlopetri have been demarcated with underwater signs and the 5,000 year old site is open to swimmers.
Commenting on the controversial decision by the Rhodes Municipal Council to investigate solutions, including hunting and sterilization, to the problem of the "Platoni" deer (Dama dama) overpopulation which destroys crops and causes around 20 road accidents annually, Vice-Minister Giorgos Amyras emphatically stated that "deer hunting will not be allowed on Rhodes". Instead, special barriers will be installed in the worst affected areas in southern Rhodes. An estimated 5,000 deer, an icon of Rhodes with a deer statue standing where the Colossus once did in the town harbour, are estimated to live on the island. The Rhodes deer is considered native to the Island, the Balkan peninsula and Turkey, with the island being called "Elafousa" (or Deer island) in ancient times, while fossils go back to the neolithic period. Another theory is that it was (re)introduced by the Knights of St. John in the middle ages but a 2006 study found that it is smaller and genetically distinct from other populations and in need of "urgent" conservation and management. In sharp contrast, the Mayor had proposed allowing licensed hunters to cull about 150 deer per annum!
The 204-megawatt solar park features two-sided solar modules and covers a total area of 1,821 hectares near the northern Greek town of Kozani. It will supply enough power for 75,000 households and save around 300 mt of CO2. It was 75% funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, built by ELPE, Greece's biggest oil refiner, using PV modules by China's JinkoSolar and commissioned by German energy developer Juwi. The development is part of the planned de-lignitization of Western Macedonia.
Speaking at the 3rd Wine Tourism Conference held in Nemea (1-3 April 2022) the Vice-Minister of Tourism Sophia Zacharaki announced a revamped portal for certified 'visitable' wineries, a new wine tourism awards scheme and welcomed the fact that 24 new wineries have now been certified as visitable bringing the total to 88. Euros 22m will be allocated so that more wineries can be certified.
The new Radisson RED Mitropoleos Square, strategically located near Syntagma Square and Plaka is expected to open in the second half of 2023. It will feature 94 luxury apartments with kitchenettes, to be let as short term rentals (STRs), as well as a gym, a 150 sq. m. conference room, an all-day diner, and a roof top bar-restaurant with a celebrity chef, in an old, converted office building. However these very features have provoked the ire of Hoteliers: the size and location, the deep pockets of the developers and particularly the fact that it will indirectly offer recreation and food services to its customers, something expressly forbidden under the STR Legislation. Grigoris Tassios, President of the Hellenic Hoteliers Federation and a longtime critic of STRs, complains that the EUR 30m development would create unfair competition to nearby hotels burdened with higher VAT, Property and Municipal Taxes. He once more called for the regulation of the STR market and for the reduction of VAT for hotel stays to 6% from the current, pandemic era rate of 13% (the normal VAT rate was 24%).
Almost 15 years have passed since Sea Diamond, a cruise ship operated by Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines (rebranded Celestyal Cruises in 2014), sunk after striking a reef, near Athinios, Santorini's main port, with the loss of two lives. An oil barrier has been placed over the shipwreck but the committee has produced pictures that indicate it is not fully effective, releasing oil, tar and heavy metals to the surrounding sea (Santorini Caldera) on a daily basis. The last development in the related 15-year legal saga was a court dismissal, in July 2021, of a request by the Municipality of Santorini that the ship owners be once more obliged to raise the ship. The court found that the Municipality is not the appropriate body to file such a request. An earlier court decision in 2014 has already ordered the shipowning company to raise the wreck and pay compensation of EUR 14m to the Municipality of Santorini, but neither happened. Various governments have also paid lip service to the need to raise the ship, which, left on site, will keep polluting for another 420 years. The Citizens' Committee announced their intention to take, once more, but this time as united citizens, the matter to the courts. Louis Group was founded in 1935 by the late Louis Louizou, considered the "father of Cyprus Tourism".
In a detailed report, Documento newspaper, presents the determined efforts of a well-known shipowning family, during the pandemic, to build a new resort in an abandoned 12-acre field near the traditional settlement of Papigo, a famous domestic tourism destination, but inside the most strictly protected Zone of the North Pindos National Park. The efforts provoked a reaction by 80 Papigo residents, who were supported by the local branch of Elliniki Etaireia. A debate in the municipal council was won by the developers side by just one vote, the vote of the mayor which counted double! As a result, the boundaries of the settlement changed and a new road was built. Protests have also been lodged by the NGO Kallisto, the Communist Party councillors in the Regional Council of Epirus, and the MERA25 Party whose MP Kriton Arsenis brought the matter to the Greek parliament in December 2021. Ironically, all this is happening while Greece is trying to inscribe the area in the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. Works are currently underway and while local state environmental agencies are supposedly looking into the matter, owners of neighbouring fields are probably preparing to sell to other developers... Once more private profits will prove more powerful than anything else?
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