“Sunset on Santorini. As dusk falls, the crush begins. With the exquisite choreography of a well-honed ritual, coachloads of tourists descend on Oia, the stunning settlement perched on the island’s northern tip. Pushing their way along the village’s packed central alleyway – past shops selling luxury garments, exclusive Greek designers and Jimmy Choo shoes – they have one goal: to glimpse the flaming fireball slip into the sea.”…
“ ‘We have reached saturation point. The pressure is too much,” he sighs, lamenting the lack of economic and environmental sustainability. “Santorini has developed the problems of a city. Our water consumption alone has gone up [by 46%]. We need desperately to increase supplies but that requires studies, which in turn require technicians and that we cannot afford.’
Zorzos has appealed to the authorities in Athens to put a break on the building spree.
In an unprecedented step, he has also capped visitor numbers this year, limiting the number of cruise ship passengers disembarking daily to 8,000 people. Last year 636 ships docked at the island, the country’s most popular cruise destination. There were days when 18,000 passengers arrived, all wanting to see the famous island of narrow lanes and blue-domed churches.
For residents such as Christoforos Asimis, in his 70s, remembering Santorini as it once was has become increasingly difficult. Asimis, a painter and the doyen of the island’s art scene, is frequently forced to draw inspiration from works past when he puts brush to canvas. ‘I never for the life of me imagined there would be traffic jams on this island,’ he says. ‘Any sense of moderation has been buried under concrete. There is absolutely no respect for the environment. The Greek state gets a lot out of tourism, but risks losing everything if the island is destroyed.’…”
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