A picture from the iconic shipwreck beach, the Navagio on the island of Zakynthos is stirring the spirits in Greece on Tuesday. The picture shows a pile of trash, including water bottles, beer cans and God knows what else on top of each other or next to each other is patiently waiting under the hot summer sun to be picked up and removed. In vain. Is it the “dark side of mass tourism” as several Greek media claim blaming the tourists or also one of the chronic diseases of the Greek state and authorities who neglect the areas they have been appointed to take care of?
The picture was taken by Michalis Bakas, a environmentalist who recently visited the most famous beach in Greece, most likely in Europe and possibly in the whole world.
Bakas posted the picture on his social media account on Monday afternoon, and he expressed his indignation writing:
“Greek Summer 2022: I can’t understand how you can pay to go for a few hours to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and leave your trash there.”
Speaking to state broadcaster ERT, Bakas blamed both the tourists visiting the Shipwreck of Zakynthos but also the local authorities who have failed to provide trash bins.
“Such images insult the touristic product,” he said stressing that it is both a matter of personal and authorities responsibility.
However, loyal to the Greek tradition of dividing responsibilities that only hinder improvement of infrastructure or solving any such problems, it’s not the municipality in charge of the shipwreck anymore but a special committee appointed by the Tourism Ministry.
“We, the municipality of Zakynthos, have no right to intervene. The responsibility lies to the Shipwreck Committee appointed by the Ministry of Tourism” said mayor Nikitas Aretakis to news website GRTimes.gr.
“For the Shipwreck there is a Committee, which the Ministry of Tourism has appointed for its proper and smooth operation. We have no responsibility and authority regarding this part anymore. Essentially, we have no jurisdiction to intervene in anything about the Zakynthos Shipwreck,” Aretakis underlined.
In the same wave length spoke also the president of the Municipal Council of Zakynthos, Stavros Kakolyris, who said that the Committee has security guards there on daily basis and they should have informed the chairwoman of the Committee Panagiota Dionysopoulou about the problem with the trash.
“We as a municipality have no right to intervene in anything. There is a competent Committee responsible for the organization and cleaning of the beach on a daily basis. The president of the Commission, Panagiota Dionysopoulou, has placed a security guard at the site, so the Ministry of Tourism should have already been informed about the problem with the garbage at the Shipwreck,” Kakolyris said.
He added, however, that “there were no such incidents last year, because the garbage was picked up by the boats that came. And this, because one can only visit it by sea.”
The committee seems to have quite some issues with fulfilling its duties, as in May they installed a wooden lifeguard tower right in front of Greece’s most photographed beach. The issue triggered strong reactions among the locals, an outrage on social media and had ministers to intervene to have the tower removed.
After the furore, local touristic boat owners got together and removed the garbage from the beach.
Authorities kept throwing the ball of responsibility to each other.
PS And this confirm the good old saying: “Too many cooks spoil the broth” – especially when some of them they simply don’t care even to put a garbage bin or two at a beach visited by dozens of people each and every summer day.