Monday, 20 March 2006


For people visiting Lesvos more than once, at each arrival it will be a surprise what buildings are new on the island. Also this year there will be opened plenty of new accommodations and this season tourists will see more houses than last year. The frantic building goes on, not because there are more tourists coming, but because in Greece there are a lot of subsidies to get and the Greeks finally know now where to get them.

For example. If you want to build a house, it can be cheaper to build two houses. When you design one of the two houses for tourism more than half of the costs can be subsidized. Then you have to rent out one house for several years and after that you can live in it yourself. Also in the biological tourist sector you can gain money. Although nobody on the island knows exactly what agricultural tourism is. Here you cannot put tourists on a farm because most of the farms consist of buildings made out of wreckage, thrown away refrigerators and cookers, so that you have the idea that you live on a dump. Cunning people put tourists just besides an olive grove so that they have the feeling that they live on an olive farm. Very clever. But the only activity around olive trees takes place in the winter when they harvest the trees, so an olive farm is bullshit. And the sign for biological olives that nowadays seems to hang in every tree means that it did not get its yearly chemical shower. In the earlier times there was a little plane showering all the trees on the island, but nowadays you seldom see a farmer spraying his trees.

So do not wonder that Anaxos is fully built. If you think that there is no more space left for another apartment, a Greek will always find a way to put a new studio in between. Molyvos is also trying to fill up all its gaps. Many a piece of land is sold and all Greeks now seem convinced that they have to build a house from their saving money. Well, not only Greeks do that. Many a foreigner who fell in love with the island is building like crazy as well. Not many people anymore want to live in the medieval city of Molyvos. They are chased away by the disturbing sounds of street sellers and young motorbike drivers who enjoy making as much noise as possible. Everybody wants to have a garden and the new parts of Molyvos like 'Garden village' and 'Molywood' start to look like fancy residential areas.

And then there is the expansion of tourism. Old Hotels and apartment buildings are closed because they went bankrupt (best example is Hotel Arion but also Hotel Mythimna Beach will be closed for the second summer), or because they have grown old. New accommodations grow like mushrooms and are very popular with the tour operators.

Tour operators can guarantee a certain occupancy of their rooms, but that's all because you do not want to know how much money they pay the hotel and apartment owners. It is a miracle that they can pay with that money a room maid or for a decent breakfast, but keeping their buildings in shape is quite another matter. It is very sad that a country like Greece has to compete with countries like Turkey where life is so much cheaper. Here a hotel is more a reason for a headache than a place to earn your money.

This is also the reason why there are so many overbookings on the island. A hotel owner would rather give your room to a Greek or an independent tourist because then he will earn at least ten times more money. It might be the only way to survive.

So where is your money going then? Well amongst others to your local travel office, to the tour operator, to the Greek agency, to the transfers to and from the airport and of course for your plane ticket. The small amount left will be for your accommodation owner.

The only way to make some profit is to have a huge hotel. But Lesvos is no island for big hotels. It has no very large beaches or restaurants where busloads of people can swim or eat. Lesvos is a destination for small companies and for people who like rest, nature and Greece. Also Molyvos does not like the big tourism. But there are projects for a big all-inclusive hotel.

All-inclusive seems to be the fashion in tourism and one tour operator likes to follow that trend. People in Molyvos are pretty scared about this new phenomenon. Are we getting tourists that will occupy the seats in the planes but will never show up out of their hotel? It would be a slow death for Molyvos, which is already in problems thanks to the coming of the Euro and Europe in Greek life.

And all this for people who do not mind where their hotel is, as long as the sky and the sea are blue and they've got everything in their hotel. It is a strange fashion in tourism and you are wondering why those people go abroad. Not to see Molyvos or to enjoy Greek hospitality. Not to enjoy eating fresh squid or be happy in the sunset drinking ouzo. Do we want that kind of tourism in Molyvos? No!

So if you are wondering why you have to pay so much to travel to Lesvos, know that Lesvos does not have very luxurious accommodation. Its exclusivity is in not yet being spoiled by tourism and its charm is the small-scale tourist business. And therefore you have to pay. But if you choose to do so, you will be sure to get what you want.

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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