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Economy

Greece’s Infrastructure Not Ready for Tourists, More Resorts Coming

ATHENS – Expecting another record year in tourism to surpass the numbers in 2023 in arrivals and revenues, Greece’s infrastructure – particularly on overwhelmed islands – isn’t adequate to deal with the demands even as more resorts keep opening.

The New Democracy government said it wanted to control overtourism and beef up infrastructure but has instead pushed for more arrivals and basic frameworks such as water supplies can’t cope, especially on the islands.

Greece could get as many as 35 million tourists in 2024, more than three times the country’s population and the biggest money-maker for the government which has opened the door to resorts and hotels taking over public beaches.

The General Secretariat of Ports, Port Policy and Maritime Investments of the Ministry of Shipping is trying to find the resources to launch the most urgent projects as the wealthy on yachts need places to park their vessels.

Forbes magazine pointed to more luxury resorts opening this spring and summer, including on Santorini which is so overrun that a limit has been placed on the number of cruise ships allowed to drop anchor.

The Tourism Ministry also has been pushing for year-round tourism and trying to persuade visitors to come in the off-seasons for attractions other than beaches, islands, sun and summer.

The director of the United Kingdom travel site and Greece specialist Planet Holidays pledged to support prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ call for the country to become a year-round tourism market.

Mitsotakis recently told an EU tourism summit the country attracts 30-32 million tourists each year, but said extending the season would offer different experiences and benefiting the economy and environment.

“Not enough people come to Greece for what Greece has to offer culturally,” he said. “Most people come for the beach and for the summer experience. We can do much more in terms of developing our cultural heritage and connecting it to our tourism product by offering integrated experiences.

“It’s not about the numbers … it’s about how much people spend in Greece. You could envision a future where you have fewer tourists spending more and maybe it would be economically, certainly environmentally, better off.”

He didn’t explain how having more visitors would be better for the environment with some island residents in 2023 starting campaigns to take back public beaches leased by the government or just taken over by unlawful businesses.

Planet Holidays director Harry Kyrillou said, “We fully support the Greek prime minister’s vision for a year-round tourism market. For years, Planet Holidays has championed this by offering Athens throughout the year.

He continued: “In the last decade, we’ve added Thessaloniki and Heraklion in Crete and Rhodes Town in Rhodes, along with fly-drives to areas of interest where hotels have stayed open in winter months.”

Kyrillou highlighted areas where year-round tourism would thrive, such as “regions with rich cultural heritage offering special interest activities, such as gastronomy, cycling, hiking and wine tours.”

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