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Zoning Law Causes Friction

The planned zoning law for tourism was one of the key topics for discussion at Prodexpo 2008, the ninth conference-exhibition on the utilization of real estate in Greece and Southeast Europe.

As pointed out by the tourism ministry’s special secretary, Stefanos Vlastos, the zoning law for tourism is expected to help enhance the tourism product, as well as the integration of summer homes in a unified development strategy.

Mr. Vlastos referred to the tourism zoning law as one of the most important structural changes that has happened in Greece in the last decades and one of the key steps to attract investments for specific types of tourism.

“The zoning law will encourage investments and specific integrated tourist infrastructure such as conference centers, marine tourism, cultural and religious tourism, sports tourism (golf, ski resorts, diving centers), therapeutic tourism and rural tourism,” Mr. Vlastos said.

During the conference the chief executive officer of the Tourism Development Company, Professor Haris Kokkosis, referred to the advantages that the zoning law offers to the use of public property and stressed the increased interest shown in small-scale hotel establishments (boutique hotels).

Meanwhile, a call for the withdrawal of the proposed tourism zoning plan that the Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works recently tabled for discussion at the National Planning Council was made by environmental organizations Arcturos, Archelon, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage, the Hellenic Society for the Protection of Nature, the Hellenic Ornithological Society, Callisto, Mediterranean SOS network, MOm, Greenpeace and WWF Hellas.

The ten environmental organizations expressed their disagreement with the zoning plan as “it confronts tourism as a ‘construction project’ and seems to encourage even larger scale tourism investment (golf, large hotel chains, big holiday homes).”

The organizations stressed that such a plan should be designed for the restoration of damaged areas of mass tourism and for the revitalization of programs through eco-tourism and rural tourism of mountain communities and abandoned settlements.

They support that tourism should protect natural areas and encourage a sustainable model of environmentally responsible tourism, something that has been stated in words by the tourism ministry but will not be served in practice by the proposed project, they said.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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