Despite Overtourism Fears, Runaway Development on Mykonos Goes On

ATHENS – While the New Democracy government has expressed a desire to curb development in tourist areas, especially on the islands, it is permitting further expansion on the already overcrowded and popular island of Mykonos, where public beaches have been overtaken by commercial interests.

The island is notorious for overcharging tourists, and its questionable reputation has led to a decrease in visitor interest, largely due to overcrowding, businesses known for tax evasion, and strained infrastructure.

Despite these issues and previous claims of protecting beaches from exploitation, the government is seeking even more foreign investors and luxury resorts, allowing for zoning changes on Mykonos and other islands overwhelmed by development.

A fifth development on Mykonos in recent years, a hotel with villas at Agrari, is currently under consultation, despite concerns from municipal officials who lack the authority to halt these developments.

The state-run Invest in Greece agency is reviewing the plan, which includes a hotel with 82 beds, 12 furnished villas, swimming pools that require valuable water sources, and an indoor gym, covering 15,781 square meters (169,865 square feet) on 193 hectares (477 acres) of land.

Southrock Property Company Eleven, the company behind the project, is requesting that the project be classified as a Special Spatial Development Plan for Strategic Investments (ESHASE), allowing for fast-track approval, according to Kathimerini.

Public reaction to the proposal has been overwhelmingly negative, with almost all of the 68 comments submitted opposing the development, citing concerns over the loss of one of the island’s last unspoiled areas to business interests.



A ban on the construction of new tourist units in unplanned areas of the island was imposed in 2021, with exceptions for projects deemed strategic (ESHASE) or having a similarly favorable urban planning status.

Efi Sarantakou, Assistant Professor of Spatial Policy at the University of Western Attica, criticized the loophole that allows certain investments to bypass the building suspension, noting the absurdity of considering an investment on Mykonos as “strategic.”

She argued that strategic investments, while not problematic in themselves, should not be misused to promote overdevelopment in tourist-heavy areas and should instead be directed to regions with little tourism development or where there is a significant societal benefit.

For the second consecutive year, bookings for Mykonos have declined, exacerbated by negative social media commentary on the island’s high costs, noise, and saturation. This comes as the Finance Ministry revoked a lease for Paradise Beach Resort to rent out umbrellas and sunbeds, as the operation exceeded the 50% limit commonly ignored on beaches that are supposed to be public but are often obstructed.


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