Close to two million people will visit Santorini when 2017’s record-breaking tourist season ends, making the tiny island one of the most visited destinations in all of Greece.
And while Greece is basking in the numbers— more million people in 2017 alone— many on Santorini worry about the long and short term impact on the island, according to a report in The Guardian written by Helena Smith.
Similar over-tourism crises have hit cites like Venice and Barcelona, where locals are protesting and taking matters into their own hands while watching their once-pristine neighborhoods being turned into Disneyland-like freak shows.
Locals in Barcelona are revolting against companies like Airbnb which are luring apartment owners into renting their flats to tourists, transforming neighborhoods into tourist areas and also making rents and the cost of living skyrocket.
Officials in Santorini are taking note of what is happening elsewhere and are worried that their island could be the next victim of what is called “over-tourism.”
In 2016 the island’s airport was voted the Worst Airport in Europe by the website Sleeping In Airports, which surveys travelers. Many people complained about an infrastructure not capable of handling so many arriving and departing passengers and 3-4 hour long waits to check in.
The island’s mayor, Anastassios-Nikolaos Zorzos, has already implemented an 8,000-person cap on the number of cruise ship visitors to the island and a new ship berth allocation system would be implemented in 2018, controlling the flow of ships and their thousands of guests.
The numbers are staggering for a 29-square mile island like Santorini, according to the report:
-This year alone, an estimated 2 million vacationers will visit Santorini
-More than 850,000 of these visitors will arrive on cruise ships
-Last year 636 ships docked at the island, making Santorini the number one cruise destination in Greece.
-During peak season, there were days when 18,000 passengers arrived.
According to Helena Smith’s interviews with locals, there is growing concern that the mass tourism will have both short and long-term negative affects on the island.
Read the Guardian story here.