Greek Government Designates 198 Beaches Off-Limits to Businesses Amid Protests

Greece designates 198 'untrodden beaches' off-limits to businesses, aiming to curb tourist overcrowding and protect coastal environments amid growing concerns over mass tourism's impacts.

Safak Costu
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Greek Government Designates 198 Beaches Off-Limits to Businesses Amid Protests

Greek Government Designates 198 Beaches Off-Limits to Businesses Amid Protests

The Greek government has designated 198 'untrodden beaches' across the country as off-limits to businesses amid growing protests over tourist overcrowding and rapid coastal development. The move comes in response to concerns raised by local communities about the negative impacts of mass tourism, such as noise, overcrowding, and disrespectful behavior by visitors.

The designated beaches, identified in collaboration with the Natural Environment & Climate Change Agency (OFYPEKA), include those near or part of Natura 2000 areas or marine parks, and are located on various islands and mainland regions. Under the shoreline use law, these beaches cannot be auctioned off for commercial use, and violations such as the construction of walls, buildings, and the placement of vehicles that impede beach and sea access will be fined up to 60,000 euros.

The government's decision aims to protect these pristine beaches and limit the commercialization of the coastline. This is part of a broader effort to address the challenges posed by overtourism in Greece and find a balance between economic development and environmental preservation.

Why this matters: The designation of these 'untrodden beaches' as protected areas highlights the growing tension between the economic benefits of tourism and the need to preserve natural environments and local communities. As more destinations wrestle with the impacts of mass tourism, finding sustainable solutions becomes increasingly vital.

The Greek government has also passed a law imposing penalties on businesses that occupy more than 50% of Greek beaches with umbrellas and sun beds. Critics argue the government is not doing enough to comprehensively tackle illegal land use. However, the government says the goal is to "combine environmental protection with sustainable development."

In addition to the 'untrodden beaches' initiative, the government has announced the operation of an online platform called 'MyCoast' where interested parties can apply for shoreline use auctions and citizens can report beach access and shoreline use violations in real time. This is part of Greece's efforts to transition its tourism sector towards more sustainable practices, including measures such as a decarbonization fund for the islands, a carbon trading system, and plans to divert cruise ships to other islands to alleviate pressure on popular destinations.

The designation of the 198 'untrodden beaches' as off-limits to businesses is a significant step in the Greek government's efforts to address the negative impacts of mass tourism and rapid coastal development. While some critics argue that more comprehensive measures are needed, the government maintains that this initiative, along with other sustainable tourism practices, aims to strike a balance between environmental protection and economic growth in the face of increasing pressure on the country's coastal resources.

Key Takeaways

  • Greece designates 198 'untrodden beaches' off-limits to businesses to curb overcrowding.
  • Violations like construction on these beaches can result in fines up to €60,000.
  • The move aims to balance economic development and environmental preservation amid overtourism.
  • Greece also passed a law limiting businesses to 50% of beach space for umbrellas/sunbeds.
  • Greece is transitioning tourism towards sustainability with measures like a decarbonization fund.