Santorini: Is “Overtourism” a Real Threat to the Island?

Santorini is a world-renowned tourist destination due to its lunar-shaped coastline and imposing caldera. It is located in the Aegean Sea, part of Cyclades, having showcased an impressive popularity increase in global interest. Millions of tourists visit Santorini on an annual basis, leading to records back-to-back in flights and an exponential increase in property investments on the island.

* Fun fact: The name derives from Santa Irene and was given to the island by the Latin Empire in the 13th century, while Santorini still maintains Venetian influences.

In addition, Greece has ranked at the third place among all countries in adventure and outdoor activities, with Santorini holding the scepters. This shows a deeper understanding of tourism and hospitality, an integrated experience for travelers and “the real deal” for investments in this department.

Over the past four years, peak season has been prolonged and there are many properties accommodating tourists 365 days.

8,000 passengers served at cruises daily

Microsoft borrows appeal of Greek island of Santorini to name new project

Santorini among 20 most romantic global destinations (U.S. News & World Report)

According to Sete Intelligence:

5-star hotel reservations at an estimated 413 euros for May 2018, compared to 374 euros in May 2017 (Ibiza respectively 325 euros and 292 euros)

4-star hotel reservations at an estimated 249 euros for May 2018, compared to 226 euros in May 2017

santorini

Now, unfortunately the breathtaking island of Santorini is on the brink of an overtourism crisis. Greece in general has been skyrocketing from record to record, when it comes to tourists. In 2018, the country welcomed 32 million travelers, whereas in 2010 the respective numbers just stretched to 15 million. You can see the crazy upward trajectory, which is boosted by 5.7% increase in AIA Athens International Airport arrivals for May 2019.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong in tourism and Greece may benefit a great deal from its charming destinations. People love Greece and the Greeks love living up to the expectations of “Greek hospitality”…along with cashing in on that reputation. But, to what extent? Santorini seems to be facing many of the problems that are typical of a city. Crowded streets that cannot serve the volume of vehicles or passers-by, lack of water and even noise pollution have been added to the most recent problems of the road network crashing down. Lodgings sprout like mushrooms one after the other, threatening even places of unparalleled beauty and historic value…places like Vlychada that had better be left untouched.

santorini

What can be done? The dilemma is overwhelming. On the one hand, there is the eagerness to earn more and more, from an ever-increasing demand of travelers. Who does not want to visit the volcanic island of Santorini? Take pictures of the largest caldera worldwide and enjoy the dramatic vistas from the steep cliffs. The whitewashed houses literally hanging from the rocks, facing the Aegean Sea and the volcanic soil that gives birth to so many exquisite local products. Cruise ship owners, hoteliers, restaurants and bars, souvenir stores and local wineries, they all seek a share of the pie. However, on the other hand, nature has already given us quite a few “wake-up calls”. How are we going to respond?

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