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New rules on Greece's beaches


New lawn law is to come in Greece

The coastal sections of this popular holiday destination are in some places completely overcrowded with beach loungers and parasols. Due to local protests, a controversial law has now been passed.


Last year, the "towel movement" made headlines in Greece: on the Aegean island of Paros and other coastal regions such as Crete in the south to the Chalkidiki peninsula in the north and from Corfu in the northwest to Kos in the southwest, hundreds of islanders moved to Santa Maria Beach. An entrepreneur had completely occupied this idyllic stretch of coast with sun loungers and umbrellas and was charging fees for their use. The residents of Paros vehemently demanded free access to the beach and space for their own towels.


Under public pressure, the Greek government became compelled to take action against the uncontrolled spread of sunbeds. In March, a new law was passed requiring that every beach be 70 percent free of permanently installed loungers. In specially protected areas this percentage is as high as 85 or even 100 percent.


The new law also stipulates that the minimum distance between the water and the loungers must be four meters in the future. This is intended to ensure better access to the water without visitors having to squeeze past overcrowded loungers. In addition, half of each beach will be open to the public. This measure is intended to prevent beach lounger rental companies and bars from spreading there, as reported in the Greek Reporter.


Possible fines or even closures


In recent years there has been an increasing privatization of beaches, for example by hotels or other companies. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis explained in a TikTok video that beach concessions will in future be awarded via online auctions. This measure aims to create greater transparency and avoid opaque deals concluded behind closed doors.


Anyone who acquires such a license is subject to strict requirements. This includes the obligation to keep beaches clean and provide access for people with disabilities and lifeguards. Violations of these requirements could result in fines or even the closure of the section of beach in question.


A lot of criticism


Not everyone shares the positive view of the new law. According to reports from the Editorial Network Germany (RND), some environmental protection organizations speak out against it. Their main point of criticism is that the previous regulation, which states that beaches can only be used up to a distance of 30 meters from the waterline, is being repealed. Although this regulation has hardly been followed, critics fear that its abolition will lead to the destruction of many beaches. In comparison, there is a protection zone of 100 meters in France, 150 meters in Germany and even 300 meters in Denmark, in which no development is permitted.


The new law would also completely abolish historically developed protection zones, for example on Kos and Rhodes. This is criticized by environmentalists as a concession by the government to tourism entrepreneurs, as the RND summarizes. The regulations of the new law regarding the management of beaches by deck chair and parasol rental companies would also not meet the expectations of many island residents. It is feared that even with the new law, difficulties will remain in finding a free space on the beaches.

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