Cruise ships are a common sight in the Santorini caldera, Source: Depositphotos

Greece to slash cruise numbers to Santorini and Mykonos next year

Greece to slash cruise numbers to Santorini and Mykonos next year

The country is finally coming to terms with the idea of having to do something about overtourism

It looks like cruise calls to popular Greek islands, especially Mykonos and Santorini, might be capped to a specific quota, starting next year. It was the country’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis himself, who alluded to that possibility in a recent interview with Bloomberg.

Santorini alone received 1.3 million visitors last year only from cruise ships, and that’s an island that only has 15,000 residents. The problem with these large vessels, however, also arises from the fact that they can’t dock on the harbour itself, which results in long transfer waits for passengers and congestion ashore.

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t even all residents who found this problematic but rather – other tourists, specifically those travelling to the islands by other means and staying in hotels.

There are people spending a lot of money to be on Santorini and they don’t want the island to be swamped,” said the prime minister. “Santorini is the most sensitive, Mykonos is the second.”

Mitsotakis also said that the crowding of so many people also raises problems of security, given the small space. So, it looks like Greece has reached its tipping point in terms of how many tourists it can handle at a time.

Bidding for docking berths considered an option

The country welcomed more than 36 million people last year, up 21% from 2022, according to a Bank of Greece report. The Greek cruise industry generated 847 million euros in revenue in 2023, more than double the amount generated in 2022. Tourism has always been a mainstay in the economic makeup of the Mediterranean country, rich in appealing natural and cultural sites, traditions and cuisine.

According to the prime minister, there is an idea to introduce bidding for docking berths among the cruise lines and a reservation for the available slots. Details, however, will likely emerge later on.

However, this appeal has invariably led to the phenomenon of ‘overtourism’ that other popular European destinations have been struggling with as well in recent years.



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