Beaches in Greece have become a source of conflict between locals and beachfront businesses that have monopolized the shore with expensive sun-loungers, causing some residents to feel excluded due to the high costs. The “Towel Movement” campaign has emerged as a response, with people protesting the pay-per-use sunbeds and advocating for the preservation of public beaches. Recently, hundreds of locals staged a sit-in on the beach to raise awareness about the issue. The movement originated on Paros Island and has now spread to Naxos, with over 5,000 members in the Facebook group “Save the Beaches of Naxos NOW!”
In Greece, beaches are public spaces, but businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and bars have the option to lease areas for their customers. However, some locals argue that these businesses are exceeding their designated areas and taking advantage by charging exorbitant prices. The “Save Paros Beaches” group shared an image on Facebook, revealing that renting an umbrella and two sunbeds could cost €60 per day, while the “VIP area” would cost €120 per day.
The Save Paros Beaches group issued a statement to Metro, asserting their right to public space and expressing their frustration with “greedy, socially irresponsible businessmen” who occupy beaches beyond their legal limits. They claim that these businesses are encroaching on the beaches, occupying them entirely or exceeding their limits by up to 100 times the legally allowed area. Nicolas Stephanou, a 70-year-old resident of Paros, stated that locals feel as though they are being pushed off the island. He highlighted the significant discrepancies between the officially leased area of 7,186 square meters and the actual beach space occupied, which amounts to 18,800 square meters, according to The New York Times.
Ronit Nesher, who relocated to Paros several years ago, expressed her disappointment in the current situation. She recalled that just five years ago, she could freely enjoy the natural beauty of the beaches without the overcrowding caused by sun-loungers and umbrellas. Nesher questioned whether this is the future residents want for Paros, with no consideration for the locals and the environment.
The Independent has reached out to the Paros Municipality for comment and has also contacted the campaign groups in Paros and Naxos to gather further insights on the issue.