Santorini Buckles Under Weight of Too Many Tourists

Santorini residents are beginning to get frustrated as the island’s infrastructure cannot handle the tremendous influx of tourists, with two million visitors expected to land on the island this year.

According to The Guardian, this is a mixed blessing. While the 30 million tourists expected in 2017 will boost the country’s ailing economy, social and economic inequalities create a climate of discontent for many.

Meanwhile, Santorini can not keep up with the infrastructure shortages and inadequacies, as the island can not handle the number of visitors. In addition to socio-economic tensions, soaring tourist arrivals are leaving an environmental impact as well.

At least 11% of the island surface is concrete buildings, and water consumption has increased by 46%. A need for more supplies is paramount, but the island simply can not afford the costs involved in facilitating those assets.

This winter, 141 hotels will stay open on Santorini, extending the season so that locals can make the most of incoming profits. All that said, this tourism boom has been nothing short of bittersweet, The Guardian reports.

Indicative of the tourist boom and the need to facilitate the vast numbers of visitors, the population of Santorini is rising rapidly, as more and more people are looking for work on the island. The birth rate on the island (about 150 per year) is the highest in Greece, proportionally. More than 25,000 people are now permanent residents in Santorini.

Local authorities have been forced to cap visitor numbers this year, The Guardian says. They have limited the number of cruise ship passengers disembarking every day to 8,000 – a drop compared to last year, when there were days that saw 18,000 passengers landing.

Santorini joins Machu Picchu, Venice, Cinque Terre, and the Seychelles, tourist destinations that have imposed visitor limitations in recent years due to over-tourism. Citizens in other Mediterranean tourist areas in Italy, Spain and Portugal, have been demonstrating against excessive tourism this summer.