The inhabitants of Greek islands are fighting to “take back the beaches”. They started the Towel Movement

The inhabitants of Greek islands are fighting to "take back the beaches".  They started the Towel Movement

The inhabitants of the Greek coast are fed up with the appropriation of beaches by private companies, which, with tourists in mind, spread sunbeds on them, for which they often charge high fees. so-called The Towel Movement fights for free access to some beaches.

Tourists vacationing in Greece and residents have great difficulty finding a piece of sand where they could freely spread their own towel and sunbathe. The sea view is covered by sun loungers and umbrellas that can be rented for a fee.

Sunbeds have taken over Greek beaches

They are set up by entrepreneurs, hoteliers and owners of beach bars and cafes. They often charge high rates for renting beach furniture. The cost of renting a luxury deckchair on the island of Paros in the Cyclades is even 120 euros a day.

It comes to the point that in some tourist areas of Greece, people who do not want to pay large sums for renting sun loungers, or cannot afford it, are not allowed on the beaches at all.

The inhabitants are fed up

The people of Paros in the Aegean Sea are fed up with this situation and have decided to fight to “take back the beach”. An informal, grassroots Towel Movement has formed on the island, which protests against the illegal privatization of beaches on Paros and other Greek islands.

“We are concerned about the perpetuation of lawlessness and indecency on the beaches of Paros by companies that exploit parts of the beaches and arbitrarily occupy common space with sun loungers and umbrellas, well beyond the limits of the concession agreements they have signed,” the Facebook group explains.

“We defend the right of citizens and visitors to our island to have free access to the beaches we love. The Greek summer is part of our soul, it is part of our identity: let no one take it away from us!” the inhabitants of Paros appeal.

The situation got out of control

By law, only 50% of of space on the beach can be rented for private use, the remaining 50 percent. it must remain free and open. In the case of a nature conservation area, only 30% of can be rented, explained the prefect of the island, Konstantinos Bizas, in an interview with “Deutsche Welle”. However, residents of the island point out that the situation is completely out of control. According to them, no one has been monitoring compliance with the regulations for two years.

They organized the first two demonstrations on the beaches in late July. About 300 and 400 people took part in them. Some of them appeared with banners with the slogan “Reclaim the beach”. The locals have also been joined by foreigners who either live on the island or visit it regularly. In recent days, protests have also spread to the islands of Naxos and Serifos.

The protests are having an effect

In response to the residents’ action, Greek Finance Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said that controls would be intensified and that breaking the law would not be tolerated.

As a result, sunbeds and umbrellas have been removed from, among others, the popular Santa Maria beach on the north-eastern coast of Paros.

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