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. Access to one of the most beautiful beaches (Avlaki Papa) has become difficult, and the protected wetland inside it has been severely damaged. An iconic beach next to the Port (Koumbara) 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.
On July 15, 2020, the Interministerial Committee on Strategic Investments approved new and large-scale investment plans in the same areas.
In the area “Koumbara – Diakofto” of Ios, permits were granted to company 105 SA to build a tourist village. 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 permits included the construction of a bridge that connects the rocky islet with the beach, something that is incompatible with the Cycladic landscape. The State Council cancelled all permits in 2022 following an application made by Ios homeowners and environmental associations in 2016. Autopsies made by the Environmental Inspectors during 2016 and 2018 revealed a number of illegalities, which concern the way the bridge was built, the alteration of a stream, the building of various structures without permits, etc.
A five-star hotel called Calilo has been built in the “Raches Pappas” area of Ios. Part of that area was occupied by a wetland protected by a Presidential Decree, which was fed by streams coming from the surrounding mountain slopes. This wetland has now been severely damaged, and so have the streams that were feeding it. A number of illegal roads have been built in the area.
“Pikri Nero” Area
A third area that is slated for large-scale development is Pikri Nero. Illegal roads have been built in that area as well to prepare the ground for a large-scale ‘premium tourism resort’, alongside two similar projects in Koumbara-Diakofto and Papa-Loukas.
The Pikri Nero project came up for public consultation in February 2022. Our association expressed a well documented set of objections. We believe that the Pikri Nero project fails to respect the island’s spatial and social setting, promote sustainable development nor benefit all stakeholders.