Why Save Ios?
This paradise is threatened by a new form of tourism development. A number of companies have bought large tracts of land in all areas of the island and are planning large-scale investments, which consist of hotels, villas and marinas. The investments will increase the built area on the island by at least 50%. At the same time, most of the beaches will become inaccessible to the public. The construction will take place in a large part of the coastline of the island, radically altering its character, with roads, buildings, etc.
The indications so far are disappointing- to say the least. One of the most beautiful beaches (Avlaki Papa) has been effectively privatized, and the protected wetland inside it has been destroyed. An iconic beach next to the Port (Koumbara) has also been largely privatized and has been united to a neighboring rocky islet through a concrete cement bridge. The top of the islet has been leveled to build a private house. Ios is gradually becoming a tasteless version of the Caribbean islands.
Successive governments and the public administration have done little to prevent or penalize these illegal actions. Instead, they reward these companies by granting strategic investment status to their planned investments, which means faster licensing, spatial facilities, and government subsidies. The local community has fatalistically accepted that the projected development will happen, and understands that it will not reap the benefits. The dystopian future planned for Ios may be that of many other Greek islands.
Before & After
The investment plans that have progressed so far concern two areas of Ios, “Raches Pappas” and “Koumbara-Diakofto”. Before and after photos for each area capture the beauty of the landscape and the damage that has been done, which unfortunately are not reversible.
On July 15, 2020, the Interministerial Committee on Strategic Investments approved new and large-scale investment plans in the same areas. More information here.
In the area “Koumbara – Diakofto” of Ios, a complex tourist accommodation has been licensed by the company 105 SA. Diakofto is a rocky islet that was connected to the main part of Ios with a narrow strip of rocks. At the connection point there is a beach called Koumbara. The licensing includes the construction of a bridge that connects the rocky islet with the beach, something that is incompatible with the Cycladic landscape. The works in the area have been stopped until the State Council adjudicates an application for cancellation of the permit. In the meantime, autopsies of the Environmental Inspectors have revealed a number of illegalities, which concern the area of the bridge, the alteration of the landscape, the construction of buildings without a permit, the obstruction of control, etc.
A five-star hotel called Calilo has been built in the “Raches Pappas” area of Ios. In the part of the area near the sea there was a protected wetland, which was fed by streams coming from the surrounding mountain slopes. This wetland has now been destroyed, and streams that fed it have been filled. The wetland and streams area has been converted into a hotel.
“Pikri Nero” Area
An investment project in Pikri Nero, which includes plans for the development of a ‘premium tourism resort’, alongside two other projects in Koumbara and Papa-Loukas, has been designated as “strategic” by the Interministerial Committee for Strategic Investments (D.E.S.E.).
Save Ios Association objects to this proposed investment in Pikri Nero as it fails to respect the island’s spatial and social setting, promote sustainable development nor benefit all stakeholders. It undermines rational spatial planning by creating damaging and irreversible outcomes. It will defame and degrade the tourism product that local enterprises in Ios currently offer. It will privatise Ios’ precious natural resources and exclude local citizens and visitors from using them.