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Society

App Reports 1900 Greek Beach Incursions, But More Space Seen Leased

A new mobile phone application launched by the government in April has already registered approximately 1,900 complaints regarding the encroachment of Greece’s public beaches by businesses offering umbrellas and sunbeds for rent.

Greece’s Constitution mandates that all beaches remain accessible and free, yet successive governments have leased 50% of the space on many prime spots to businesses, resulting in some establishments taking over most or even all of the beaches.

Following protests on islands in 2023 over beach takeovers, the New Democracy government pledged to crack down on violators, utilizing tools such as the MyCoast app and drones for surveillance.

However, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ push for more foreign investors to spur economic recovery and attract additional tourists – the country’s primary revenue source – has led to luxury resorts monopolizing beaches.

Despite the influx of complaints, the government has deferred action, with no apparent plans for enforcement until a review of applications for additional concessions is completed, now extended to June 28.

This delay will significantly impact the summer season, and it remains unclear whether violators will face fines or closures, or if enforcement will be postponed until 2025, even as Greece anticipates another record-breaking year for tourism.

The app enables users to report violations by tourist establishments that exceed the space allotted in their leases, although any occupation of public space by businesses is unconstitutional, a fact long overlooked.

Most complaints originate from violations reported in popular destinations such as the Cyclades islands, the Dodecanese chain, and the Halkidiki peninsula, home to many of the country’s finest beaches, which are increasingly dominated by businesses.

To date, Greece has received requests from 959 businesses seeking to exploit beaches for profit, and this number is expected to surpass 1,200, further limiting public access to beaches, with reports indicating that some businesses attempt to exclude non-paying visitors.

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