HomeGlobal TravelWhat's the towel motion taking on Greece's seashores?

    What’s the towel motion taking on Greece's seashores?

    Páros embodies all of the hallmarks of a quintessential Cyclades island, that includes white-washed villages, iconic blue-domed church buildings, harbors fringed with full of life tavernas, and sun-drenched seashores.

    Nevertheless, one factor it seemingly does not have is sufficient house for beachgoers to get pleasure from its sandy shores – with out forking over something between €40 and €120 for the privilege.

    Amidst Greece’s relentless summer time heatwave, locals and vacationers have been flocking to the shoreline to chill down. But, securing a spot to unwind has grown more and more difficult because of business operators taking management of public seaside zones with dear solar loungers for rent.

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    Beach-goers walk, lay and bathe on the Oceanis beach, as the area is covered by umbrellas and sun loungers
    Oceanis seaside close to Athens has no house to throw down a towel as the realm is roofed by solar loungers © Spyros Bakalis / AFP / Getty Photos

    Towel Motion

    Fed up, locals are preventing again with a brand new marketing campaign known as the Towel Motion that goals to reclaim Greece’s seashores for the general public by means of demonstrations, basically group gatherings, throughout its seashores. Campaigners present up with towels in hand, some with protest indicators and others with leaflets, and intention to go for a swim in areas they declare have been unlawfully closed off to them.

    They argue that unauthorized operators are benefiting from vacationers, charging sky-high costs to hire solar loungers and steadily claiming bigger sections of public seashores for his or her loungers – greater than they’re legally allowed to occupy.

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    Campaigners stated in an announcement: “We declare our proper to public house, our proper to get pleasure from our seashores which might be encroached upon by grasping, socially irresponsible businessmen who occupy seashores of their entirety or exceed their limits by as much as 100 instances the realm they legally lease.”

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    Holidaymakers relax at a beach bar in the small village of Piso Livadi
    Holidaymakers calm down at a seaside bar within the small village of Piso Livadi © Shutterstock / Thirasia

    Unlawful occupation

    Though Greek seashores are public property, native institutions like eating places, bars, and inns are permitted to lease segments of the shoreline. Rules exist to outline the utmost extent of the leased space – about 50% is meant to stay unoccupied for individuals who don’t want to pay for particular providers – however residents declare these companies are unlawfully increasing their occupied house.

    Campaigners additionally argue that operators act like doormen, prohibiting entry to those that refuse to pay by erecting fences that even reduce off entry to the ocean.

    “In some instances, they coated 100% of the seaside,” Nicolas Stephanou, a resident and campaigner in his 70s, instructed the New York Occasions. “We really feel we’re being pushed off the island.”

    The Save Paros group uncovered cases the place one firm charged vacationers €60 (£51.68 / $65) for a day’s rental of an umbrella and two sunbeds. For an eye-watering €120 (£103.36 / $131), guests may entry a ‘VIP space’ – which seems to imply little greater than front-row entry. Again-row entry is reportedly about €40 (£31 / $44) for the day.

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    Members of Save Paros additionally declare that some public automobile parks have been taken over by seaside golf equipment for his or her prospects and the general public are being denied entry.

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    In this aerial view empty sun loungers line the beach at a resort on July 29, 2023 in Lardos, Rhodes, Greece.
    An aerial view of solar loungers lining the sand in Lardos, Rhodes © Dan Kitwood / Getty Photos

    A Greece-wide downside

    The problem is not confined to Paros, with the towel motion spreading to different islands grappling with the privatization of public seashores, together with Naxos, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, and Santorini.

    The Fb group Save The Seashores of Naxos Now contains over seven thousand members and goals to focus on the challenges encountered by beachgoers on that island too. A member of the group not too long ago posted an aerial {photograph} of Plaka Seashore, a pure space safeguarded by stricter EU laws. Designated as a Nature 2000 space, these laws specify that personal operators can solely occupy 30% of the shoreline moderately than the standard 50%. Nevertheless, the shared {photograph} reveals that solar lounge operators have considerably exceeded this boundary, blatantly disregarding the legislation, with hardly any free house out there for non-fee-paying folks to put down their towels.

    Final Wednesday, the Greek newspaper Hellas Posts reported that residents had “rioted” on Naxos in response to the “delinquent conduct of seaside bars” guaranteeing seaside entry to paying prospects solely.

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    What occurs subsequent?

    Stress from campaigners is beginning to repay. Two weeks after a protest on the small seaside of Santa María in Paros, solar loungers disappeared from the shoreline and three seaside bars closed down after an investigation concluded that the areas the bars had been occupying exceeded authorized limits, based on native media.

    It sounds promising however locals stay weary. In accordance with the Guardian, solar loungers disappeared from Naxos’ seaside throughout inspectors’ visits this month after which promptly reappeared upon their departure.

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    Nevertheless, authorities are beginning to react too. Greek minister of finance, Kostis Hatzidakis, pledged elevated August inspections of seaside bars to establish potential violations and impose sanctions if vital. “We’re not going to favor anybody,” he stated.

    Chatting with the Greek radio station ERT, Paros’ mayor, Markos Kovaios, stated: “The issue is actual. We need to resolve it, and we is not going to permit arbitrariness on our island. We’re reviewing the businesses for a attainable unlawful occupation of a part of the seaside.”

    Within the meantime, activists say they may proceed to protest throughout Greece’s seashores and lift consciousness till stronger laws are enforced.



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