GREECE - Battle on the beach: Greece moves to open coast for development

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Greece has pristine beaches, blue seas, and plenty of sunshine. But this picture-perfect image could be under threat. In a country where holidaymakers contribute to 16% of GDP, the government is banking on its tourist industry to help bolster the economic recovery - specifically, relaxing rules on developing the coastline. This has caused a public backlash amid fears that precious wildlife and ecosystems could be lost forever.


The island of Elafonisos, off the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece, is famous the world over for its two long sandy beaches whose tips meet to form a long strip of golden sand which slices through the pristine emerald sea.
But now the 175,000 square metres of spectacular beach property are being advertised by the country’s privatisation fund as available for property development, drawing the ire of locals and tourists alike who fear the tiny island’s defining characteristics could be sacrificed to bring in investment.
“Our great fear is the deterioration of the environment, the disappearance of all these protected plants and the complete annihilation and disappearance of the beauty of this landscape. We're also scared that the large multinationals that will invest will bar the public from coming to the beach,” says Maria Aroni, the deputy mayor of Elafonisos. She echoes the concerns of many in Greece.
The privatisation agency was quick to react, rejecting the accusations levelled against it regarding Elafonisos. “Any future development plans will be subject to public consultation and open dialogue with local and regional authorities with a view to ensuring the public interest,” a press release read. The public remains unconvinced. Officials are sceptical of any so... Go on reading on our web site.
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