Tourism professionals in Halkidiki, northern Greece, are calling on the government to take measures and as of 2018 effectively deal with illegal campers.
Citing a recent incident which endangered a family of campers when a gas canister exploded inside their tent, local tourism professionals are saying the practice is threatening the environment and public health and increasing the danger of forest fires.
Speaking to halkidikifocus, tourism stakeholders are stressing that the majority of illegal campers particularly in the Sithonia region are foreigners. According to Greek law, free camping (in the wild) with a tent, trailer or camper is prohibited. Police across the country are patrolling beaches and arresting law-breakers.
“Free camping areas are far more than legitimate campsites,” says the head of the Halkidiki Camping Association, Antonis Delidimitriou, noting that a simple search on the web reveals many such spots as well as tips on how to avoid arrest.
At the same time, the president of the Halkidiki Hotel Association (HHA), Grigoris Tassios is also urging authorities to take immediate measures.
“Precautionary actions must be in place ahead of 2018 and this can be done initially with a strong police presence from the start of the season through to June,” Tassios says, adding that HHA members are willing to host police officers from neighboring regions in order to strengthen the force.
“This will get the message across that people cannot just set up their tents anywhere.” Tassios said, adding that steep fines to be paid on the spot should be implemented.
Meanwhile, the president of the Panhellenic Camping Association, Konstantinos Papadopoulos, had also recently noted that the viability of the camping industry is under threat due to the uncontrolled free (wild) camping at the expense of both legal businesses and the environment.