Tourists Left In The Dark On Santorini

Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis and Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni were due on Santorini on Aug. 16 to find out why power failures have left parts of the island blacked out all much of the week at the height of the tourist season.
The blackouts have been an embarrassment for the government as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Kefaloyianni earlier this summer had appealed to Greeks to put on their best face to welcome tourists for what promises to be a record-breaking year with 17 million people and a needed boost to the still-sagging economy.
The power failures came at the worst possible time, generating bad publicity and a sense that no one was taking charge and with the island’s Mayor Nikolaos Zorzos that the government had left him on his own to deal with the problem.
Although he was going to check first-hand, Michelakis insisted there was no problem, although tourists, who pay top dollar at expensive resorts, had to have warm beer and drinks and eat by candle light and many stores and restaurants couldn’t operate and said they were losing perishables because of a lack of refrigeration.
“The restoration (of power) is progressing very well,” Michelakis told reporters ahead of his departure. Zorzos didn’t think so and said he was considering suing the Public Power Corporation (PPC) which has been unable to restore the power in full after a fire in a power station on Aug. 13 first began the troubles.
He said he was upset that no ministers came all week as the government was on summer holidays and marking a major holiday on Aug. 15, a Thursday, which meant much of Greece was shut down as well on Aug. 16.
Despite lingering blackouts, the PPC said there was “no problem” and that only 10 percent of the island hadn’t had power restored. The island went dark for a second time at 9 p.m. on Aug. 15 just as many tourists were sitting down to dinner in restaurants and clubs were in full swing.
Residents, shop owners and tourists were furious and vented their anger against PPC and the government for not responding sooner. It was reported that the second problem was caused by a sudden voltage surge in a capacitator.
“I do not care what the problem this time was. A minister should come here to coordinate the situation,” Zorzos said, adding that the ferry-boat Melina, which transported generators with a capacity of 5 MW from Rhodes, was expected to arrive at 8 a.m. on Aug. 15, but didn’t arrive until 4:30 p.m. and the Navy Ship Chios also arrived late.
Islanders and restaurateurs tried to make the best of the situation, with authorities sending out musicians and singers into the streets to entertain tourists while tourists were urged to enjoy Santorini by moonlight or with candles and think of it as a romantic opportunity.