Greeks are protesting for beach space as pricey sunbeds take over

Greece and its magnificent islands make up one of the most popular destinations in Europe for beach-destined holidaymakers, and it makes sense: this gem of the Med is bursting at the seams with crystal-clear waters and glistening white sands.

Greece’s beaches, however, have recently become a battleground.

In an uproar that’s been dubbed the ‘Towel Movement’, locals are protesting against the excessive number of expensive pay-per-use sunbeds taking over their public sands. The protests began on the island of Paros and have since spread to Naxos and other popular tourist spots, with locals taking a stand against the growing number of businesses that have been granted a license to rent out sunbeds and umbrellas. 

Beaches in Greece are public spaces, and while the country has a very long coastline, many locals complain that beaches are completely overrun by tourists – and that sunbed businesses are taking advantage by charging incredibly high fees of up to €100 for a single day. 

In a statement, the Save Paros Beaches group said, ‘We claim our right to public space, our right to enjoy our beaches that are encroached upon by greedy, socially irresponsible businessmen who occupy beaches in their entirety or exceed their limits by up to 100 times the area they legally lease.’

It’s true that many licensed businesses greatly overstep their boundary, plonking sunbeds way outside the agreed areas. Often, towel dwellers who want to sunbathe for free are left with hardly any space. 

Protesters took to the shores with banners reading: ‘Reclaim the beach: Paros citizens’ movement for free beaches.’ 

A petition in Paros has collected over 2,200 signatures, and there are more than 5,000 people in the Facebook group entitled ‘Save the beaches of Naxos now!’ In fact, this group has filed a legal complaint, and a prosecutor in Paros is also investigating the situation. 

It seems the ‘Towel Movement’ has really gained some traction!

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