Friday, 26 July 2013

July 22 – ‘Price Fighters’ expected

(Lesvos is waiting for tourists)

Last week a friend of mine travelled to Paris, the City of Light. He was horrified by the number of tourists: too many and you had to queue hours for all the attractions. It’s the same story for Venice, where too many large cruise ships bring not only money but also destruction to the city, a canal town already threatened by the water.

They say Amsterdam is in for a same future, although these floating-tourist-paradises are too large to enter the canals. Just imagine a fifteen-storey high flat passing your house! I can see those huge cruise ships crossing the Aegean Sea, although they stay far from our coast. Sometimes a very small exemplar stops outside the port of Molyvos, but normally Lesvos – even though it’s on the route from the South Aegean islands to Instanbul, is not on the average cruise-ship map.

Islands Tourism Development: A Viewpoint of Tourism Stakeholders of Lesvos Island is a report about the opinion of a few people working in tourism on Lesvos who answered some questions, posed by students of the University of the Aegean in 2010, about tourism in Lesvos. The writers, who think that mass tourism will soon be in decline, use two models for tourism. The 4S model: Sun, Sand, Sea, Sex (equal to mass tourism) and the 4E model: Environment and clean nature, Educational Tourism, culture and history, Events and mega events, Entertainment and fun. 20% of the respondents want the 4S model for Lesvos, 52% want it partly and 28% are against it.

Okay, here we go then: Sun, Sand, Sea and Sex. First of all, parts of the coast around Molyvos would be excavated in order to make longer and wider beaches, as the existing ones are not large enough to contain thousands of people and most of them are pebbled, so they’d need to be covered with sand. With extended beaches Eftalou would be an excellent place for a busy boulevard lined with big hotels. And even the Arion Hotel, on the outskirts of Molyvos and abandoned for tens of years, could finally get rebuilt. That site has the most brilliant view of the medieval town of Molyvos.

Doing the same in Petra is a little more difficult. This town already has a beautiful beach along its boulevard, only the small houses would need to be torn down in order to make place for some big resorts.

Anaxos, a place consisting of small pensions and gardens, already seems to be prepared. Its lovely beach is filled up with sun beds and umbrellas. But I bet that there are plenty of Greeks willing to sell their little second houses and gardens for a nice price, so even in Anaxos some big resorts could be built.

Restaurants needn’t worry if their businesses are too small or if they have too few chairs. Most modern hotels will be all-inclusive and will have their own dining rooms. Their guests will just stroll a little around the village, have a drink, buy a souvenir, but spend the bulk of their money in their hotel.

When evening falls, if there’s not enough entertainment in their hotel, the guests might venture out looking for a discotheque. So we should create more of those big dance-palaces, because the one and a half already existing in the north of Lesvos, will barely be enough. And what better than to hear the electronic boom boom boom reverberating through the night air as an alternative to those screaming creepy cicadas that we listen to now.

And of course the airport is too far away from the most popular places on the island. So, wouldn’t it be great if the old plan of making an airport at Kalloni resurges. I suggest that they then also reclaim part of the Gulf of Kalloni because I’m sure that a resort full of people will bring in more money than salt and birds.

Speaking about infrastructure: for years there has been talk about a paved road along the coast from Eftalou to Skala Sykaminia. They should definitely make that road and, better still, a highway so that busses can quickly transport tourists to this little fishing harbour, which would be an excellent place to organise huge Greek evenings. For romantic people, the boat connection should remain, although it would be preferable to use a faster speedboat, otherwise the evening will be over before the boat arrives.

Right now it is quiet on the island, too quiet for the high season. Greek tourists especially do not have money for a vacation; so it’s no wonder that lots of Lesvorians dream about busy streets and beaches overcrowded with people. In crisis times it is easy to sell your soul to the devil. But when I ask the island inhabitants if they want Eftalou to become the Faliraki of the North (Faliraki on Rhodes used to be a quiet family beach), they hesitate. So maybe no mass tourism on Lesvos? 63% of the respondents were inclined towards model 4E, a more friendly tourism that also involves nature and environment.

The conclusion of the makers of the report is that tourism on Lesvos needs a bit from each model. I agree because I would have 2 S’s – Sea and Sun – a 2 E’s – Environment and a clean nature and Eductional tourism. I am wondering how they would connect nature and mega events, but I know for sure that all tourists want entertainment and fun for their holidays. And by the way, the biggest beach of the island, Vatera, would be very suitable for big beach parties.

It is said that next year two ‘Price Fighters’ will organise regular flights to the island:
Flights from Ryan Air (from England) and Corendon Dutch Airlines (from Holland) will hopefully bring lower cost flights and bring more people to the island, something that Lesvos really needs. Of course I hope that the nightmare scenario I described above will never happen. Lesvos is so unique because of her wild and sensational nature and that fact that there is no mass tourism. However, when tourism is well organized there is plenty of space for a greater number of holidaymakers. So let the ‘Price Fighters’ discover Lesvos. And if they do not bring big developers, they will be all the more welcome!

(with thanks to Mary Staples)

© Smitaki 2013

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