The protest movement “Free Public Beaches” has spread like a wildfire from the island of Paros to several touristic areas where swimmers do not find an inch of sand free of charge to lay down their beach towels or chairs and sun-umbrellas.
The “Free Public Beaches” or the “Towel movement” is this summer’s protest story in #Greece – an attempt to reclaim beaches, to which everyone has access under Greek law. Many shady ‘businessmen’ have been taking over these space, sometimes using violence to stop others using them without payment.
The movement originally known as “Reclaim the Beaches” was launched on the island of Paros in July.
Locals reportedly complain that they can have access to public beaches only if they pay an entrance fee.
From Paros to Naxos to Crete to Halkidiki and even to Attica, more and more citizens demand free access to sand and sea thus forcing the Greek government to finally mobilize and try to put an end to illegal occupation by beach bars – at least for August 2023.
Locals start mobilization groups for free and accessible beaches on social media and these groups gather thousands of members in very short time.
Two protests took place in Halkidiki on Sunday morning when members of the newly formed “Towel Movement” gathered in Potidaia and at the stadium of Nikiti, recalling that for years there have been a lot of violations on the beaches.
According to the complaints in Halkidiki, businesses have closed the passage to the beach and the only way to get access is to pay a fee, while the image of sunbeds reaching down to the sea and close the entire beach is the norm.
At the same time in Attica, residents of Anavyssos and Lagonissi in south-east Attica, also started a protest group on Facebook.Free of sunbeds are only 19 meters, swimmers have to walk through rocks to reach the sea, state ERT TV reported on Monday.
Businessmen on the island of Naxos hastily removed sunbeds and umbrellas one night when they realized that inspectors were due to visit the island. However, locals reportedly wonder how long the sunbeds would need to return to the sand beaches.
Sunbeds or horrible wooden constructions? via ERT
Controls continue also in Falasarna, western Crete, after complaints of occupation of public space on the beach that has been rated by millions of visitors as one of the 25 best beaches in the world.
Three tenders for umbrella seats and water sports in Falasarna were rejected
At the same time, the Real Estate Service rejected three tenders for umbrella seats and water sports rhere as beach encroachment was found after an inspection by officers of Kissamos police station.
In particular, the auctions did not proceed in two places at the “Agia Paraskevi” and “Vromolimni” sites, after the discovery of trespassing, while one more site was not auctioned, as there was a negative opinion from the Ephorate of Marine Antiquities and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Chania.
The illegalities and problems in the occupation of public space are more than obvious, members of the Falasarna initiative also complain. The occupation of the public space on the beach exceeds 80%, while only 30% is allowed, in areas of the Natura 2000 network like this one, according to state ERT TV.
Kavala, northern Greece
Most businesses operate without a license, either due to paperwork or other issues and many occupy much more public space than in their lease permission.
The fines imposed, if and when they are imposed, may correspond to half a day’s revenues. According to an ERT report, cases with fines and irregularities of 2018 are now, summer 2023, being cleared.
As the movement spread and the government deployed inspectors to check if even the licenses terms and conditions are met, media showed the controllers on duty with a plastic meter to see if sunbeds have the right distance to the sea.
Majority of sunbed owners told inspectors that the problem was with the sea tide.
In Pilion Mt area, the towel movement may not have spread in the form of a generalized and intense protest, but that does not mean that there is no problem. In Agios Ioannis Piliou, a kilometer long beach is given the possibility, and for organized umbrellas and sunbeds, but there is also a long length of the beach that bathers can enjoy and enjoy freely. However, the same is not the case on other beaches of Pelion, smaller and mainly beaches at the Gulf of Pagasitikos and not by the Aegean Sea, reports ERT in its report from Afissos.
More and more citizens but also tourists refuse to pay an entrance fee and a set of sun-beds with one umbrella at prices ranging from 20 to over 130 euros.
Many mayors claim that they are not in charge or responsible for the situation and blame the state Real Estate Service.