Greek Tourism & Environment News
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?
Costas Carras (1938-2022), passed away just a few days after the 50th anniversary of Elliniki Etaireia - Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage, a leading Greek NGO which he founded with his wife Lydia in 1972. It was a reaction to the violent destruction brought upon the environmental and cultural landscape of Greece by the populist economic policies of the military dictatorship (1967-1974) that encouraged easy business loans and mindless, unplanned construction. Born in London to an old shipping family from Chios, and the son of Captain Yannis Carras (who launched Halkidiki as a destination by creating the Porto Carras Grand Resort) he studied History and Philosophy at Trinity College Oxford and Economics at Harvard and then also worked in Shipping. Ever active in public affairs, he held many and diverse roles including Vice President of Europa Nostra, Coordinator of the Greek Chapter of the Greek Turkish Forum and an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. His early successes with Elliniki Etaireia included the cancellation of a planned industrial zone in the southern Attica, the preservation of Plaka, Athens' old Town, the initiation of conservation in Prespa lakes and the staunchly pro-conservation wording of Article 24 of the Constitution of Greece. Costas Carras personally played an instrumental role in saving important monuments in Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey and hopefully his legacy will inspire the coming generations of the three countries in safeguarding the regions rich heritage and engaging in peaceful dialogue.
According to the unions, the February 2022 "Euroferry Olympia" maritime tragedy in the Adriatic (1 dead, 10 missing), has revealed that personnel cuts, insufficient infrastructure and poor sanitation standards according to official port control reports, with the state of cabins (also alleged in some social media posts), may have all contributed to truck drivers choosing, customarily, to remain in their vehicles during transit, something that should be prohibited. The Truck Drivers Union reminded the Ministry of Merchant Marine that they had informed them of the unsuitability of the particular ship since 2017, while a guest on Nikos Boyopoulos radio show on Real FM pointed out the appeal of this ship was the significantly cheaper tickets. The ship operators, Grimaldi Group, have refuted all allegations about the ships condition, stated that there were enough cabins, and insinuated that the missing truck drivers must have hidden inside their trucks so as to avoid checks from crew tasked with ensuring that no driver remains in the cargo hold. In recent years, with the purchase of Minoan Lines, the Group has come to dominate the busy Italy-Greece routes.
Timing is of the essence when launching a new destination campaign, at least if you do not wish to waste taxpayers money. This is probably not the case this time: (a) Winter is nearly over (b) The pandemic has not yet ended, with around 80-90 people lost each day, most in major cities. (c) Short-term breaks involving short-haul flights are castigated due to greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, the Greek Ministry of Tourism decided to run a non-innovative "Greekend" campaign to promote slow-season city breaks in major Greek cities to fellow Europeans! By the way, the campaign image relating to Piraeus' Tourkolimano/Microlimano is dated - the sea-side restaurants have all been demolished during the pandemic in the name of progress/public spaces! But that's another story...
Zagori area of Epirus around Vikos Gorge, is Greece's first candidacy for inclusion in UNESCO's World Heritage Cultural Landscapes List, which celebrates the 'combined works of nature and of man'. The nomination dossier, prepared by the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Regional Administration of Epirus, includes information on the intangible cultural assets of Zagori, such as music, festival and traditions, as well as on local architecture, biodiversity, flora, fauna and geology. In recent years Zagori has become known internationally, while it is also a popular domestic mountain and adventure tourism destination.Zagorochória, the 46 villages of the famous
With an apparently auto-translated post in Greek on its corporate website, Ryanair called on Greek Minister of Tourism Kikilias to respond to its September 2021 development proposals to double passengers to 10 million, to introduce off-season incentives and to put pressure on Greek airports operator monopoly Fraport to lower its 'outrageous' rates. As part of its typical pressure strategy, it also announced that it will 'unfortunately not reopen' its Rhodes base. A blessing in disguise for Rhodes? There has not been any reaction so far from the Greek Ministry of Tourism.
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