LifestyleSantorini struggles with overwhelming number of tourists

Santorini struggles with overwhelming number of tourists

Tourists are visiting Santorini like crazy
Tourists are visiting Santorini like crazy
Images source: © Getty Images | Angelos Mihas

1:09 PM EDT, June 13, 2024

The Greek island of Santorini, with a population of approximately 15,500, receives over five million guests annually. Although it sounds paradoxical, "even tourists are complaining about the large number of tourists."

Greece is one of the most popular European vacation destinations. In 2023, approximately 33 million tourists visited this country, five million more than the previous year, according to a report by the Greek Ombudsman. Some of them chose to visit the picturesque island of Santorini.

Everyone is starting to get fed up

In his latest report, the Greek Ombudsman highlights that the popular social media island of Santorini is being flooded by an increasing number of guests year by year. In the last season, it reached as many as five million people. For comparison, in 2012, that number was half as many. "On Santorini, even tourists complain about the large number of tourists," the report stated.

According to the Greek Ombudsman, regulatory changes aimed at reducing coastal construction and slowing down deforestation must be immediately introduced. Additionally, attention was drawn to the water problem, exacerbated by filling hotel swimming pools.

Tourism versus the environment and the economy

Many Greeks, regardless of political views, are increasingly worried about excessive tourism, as it threatens the natural environment. "If climate change progresses in southern Europe, we will face desertification and high temperatures. Who will want to come to Greece if temperatures reach 122°F?" wondered Prof. Manos Macaganis from the ELIAMEP think tank.

He also assessed that too much reliance on the tourism sector paradoxically risks the Greek economy. According to him, this country's economy seems to be trapped in a development model based on low-paid services with low added value, such as tourism.

"Is that bad? We have a beautiful country, beaches, islands. There is nothing wrong with utilizing our resources. However, it becomes problematic when tourism development is excessive. And there are signs that this is already happening because some islands are overbuilt, there are too many tourists, and there is a water shortage..." enumerates the expert.

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