Tuesday, 17 January 2012
Island for rent!
(The salt pans of Skala Polichnitos)
A lot of Greeks were angry after a member of the Parliament, Gerasimos Giakoumatos, suggested that in order to earn some money Greece should rent out his archaeological sites like the Acropolis. It is not such a bad idea when you think about it. Renting is not selling and when such a renter is a private society, the tourist would not risk that often to get confronted with a closed Acropolis, due to strikes of the government workers.
The icon of France, the Eiffel tower, for example is also exploited by a society (SETE: Société de la exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, so why they can do it in France and not in Greece? Do not think that in such a way all people can rent the Acropolis as a fabulous location for a birthday party. SETE for example has as goal that the Eiffel Tower should remain the number one attraction of Paris. Which means a lot of work. They not only maintain the tower and its site, they make sure that they have a good service for the tourists and whenever needed they renew or modernise the site for keeping the Eiffel tower a modern attraction so that Paris can keep counting on it as a major income. To keep the Eiffel Tower attractive they cooperate or organise themselves regularly exhibitions, concerts, festivals and other events.
When you see their costs and earnings in 2009 it is clear that everybody gets better from it: income: 65,7 millions euro; costs: 62,4 million euro, included 8,5 million euro to the city of Paris and 1,3 million euro for taxes to the state. Why is this such a bad idea for the Acropolis?
Imagine that such a society can rent the castle of Molyvos. A clever entrepreneur could besides the regular visits to the castle organise events in the evenings, something that the municipality of Lesvos could nearly afford last summer and I am sure next summer it will be even worse. The castle of Molyvos is a wonderful place for concerts, dance events and other cultural activities.
They could organise spectacular performances, like there used to be those surprising concerts of the French group Urban Sax, who may show up with as many as 200 saxophonists. They can play from all corners of the castle, even play their saxophones hanging on cables from the walls of the castle. They could even have the concert taken place partly in the harbour of Molyvos. Even a concert of the famous Dutch violist Andre Rieu, high above the medieval village of Molyvos could attract thousands of people.
This society can even enlarge his renting area. The SETE is also part of a much bigger company (Snelac) that runs tens of attraction parks like the French Disneyland in France. I do not suggest that Lesvos also should get a Disneyland, but when you use your fantasy you could bring a little bit more activity to the island in order to get more tourists.
They should not only rent the castle of Molyvos, but also the aqueduct of Moria where they could organise picnic-concerts or light shows.
They could rent Old Antissa, restore the ruins, make it a serious archaeological site and include a theme park like Jurassic Park. It is in that region (near Gavathas) that the bones were found from prehistoric animals.
They could rent the saltpans of Skala Polichnitos, open a salt museum and build besides a salt hotel with rooms of salt. When in Kemi (Finland) they can build a hotel out of snow, you should be able to do the same with salt.
They should rent waterfalls and caves and make them accessible to a bigger public. In the caves you can make exciting labyrinths and waterfall sites can be used for bungee jumping.
They should rent the Ypsilo monastery and turn it into a star watching hotel, with a huge stargazer and rooms with glass roofs so that you can fall asleep watching the stars.
They should rent Agiasos and turn it into an openair museum and course centre, having the inhabitants wearing the old costumes, give lessons not only in old handicrafts like wood carving and pottery but also in modern theatre (Agiasos is known for its theatre plays).
They should rent Plomari, restore all those tall buildings and make there a shipping museum. In ancient times Plomari used to live from building ships.
They should rent Mandamados and call it the cheese centre of the island, organising a weekly cheese market and making the cheese factories public. I mean, the Dutch cheese city of Alkmaar is a daily attraction for hundreds of visitors.
They should rent Kalloni and have it transformed into a real Dutch village. This is also very attractive; look at the Orange Country Resort in Antalya, Turkey or to Huis ten Bosch in Japan.
Well, this last suggestion is maybe a little over the top, but imagine that somebody would realise all these proposals. I would not really like Lesvos turned into one huge amusement Park. But the idea to rent out some archaeological sites to private societies is no bad idea. It will not only bring money for the municipalities, it will bring more jobs and tourists.
An example to keep on renewing can be found at the Natural History Museum of the Petrified Forest in Sigri. They decided that the island Nissiopi, in front of the harbour of Sigri and full of petrified trees, should be open to public. Next season they will have a glassbottom boat bringing the tourists there. And so you see, one of the tiniest villages of the island, so remote and yet so progressive.
(with thanks to Mary Staples)
@ Smitaki 2012