Tourism and the EU

June 2011
More than 30 years ago my wife and I had a wonderfull time camping on this relatively unknown Greek island. On the ferry from the mainland from Alexandopoulis the presence origano was everywhere. A cloud of smell drifted towards us. The weed grew everywhere at that time and we were just in blooming season then.

At first sight not much had changed. There was a bit more opportunity for scooter rental but the village had changed little. Maybe more stands with giros and souvlakia and less authentic restaurants serving dishes like moussaka. A few rental sailing yachts in the harbour are the only sighs of tourism now, it is still early season.

I ride to a remote beach on the south west side of the island and am quickly confronted with the big change that had occured: the number of sheep and goat is truly enourmous. Talking to locals they tell me the sheep totally ruin the island. All vegetation is gone including the origano. The sheep eat everything. The root cause is the EU suppying generous subsidies on keeping these animals. The whole island is becoming a desert and the resulting erosion is visible on the patches of land along the road.

Samotrakhi Sheep

 

At the end of the track I bump into a deserted beachclub. During high season there are regular “raves” here all night long. Beachclub visitors crowd the beach and are here for their high and the sunrise on house music. Locals frown upon these extravagancies and think it is very unsafe, so many people on a small area. It is irresposible, the place is totally remote and what if something happens?

It is time for renovation now and suddenly I hear a voice from the roof. A man is repairing the roof and it looks as if a Greek god had decended from haven. Zeus  seems to throwing lightning to me. The season is coming, unfortunately I have no further time. A dance rave would be a welcome distraction on this otherwise to quiet island that has lost part of its charm to modernity.