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Dodecanese news and views

The Dodecanese is the name given to the long string of islands follow the Turkish coast. Where east meets west, many ate rich in culture and history with a strong Ottoman influence. Rhodes and Kos are the premier holiday islands with good flight and ferry links. Other popular holiday islands for independent travellers are Kalymnos, Patmos and Leros while Halki, Symi, Lipsi, Pserimos, Tilos and Nisyros are favourite day trip destinations.

Harbour at Symi Greece
Symi movie

Symi island set for movie shoot. The holiday island of Symi looks set to be the backdrop for a low budget horror movie. Moviemakers have raised cash backing to film 'The Judas Curse' on Symi island later this year. The atmospheric island with its neoclassical buildings is reckoned the perfect setting for a horror movie. Those behind 'The Judas Curse' hope the movie will help promote the popular holiday islands to a new audience. British writer James Collins, who lives on Symi, thinks the barren landscape of craggy rocks and wild coast provides a great backdrop. The film's plot is based on supernatural events ignite the suppressed memories and fears of a man returning to his childhood home following his abusive father's death. Cash was raised through the Kickstarter website which appeals for public donations to help fund projects such as this. The film project by 1066 Productions Ltd raised more than £20,000 in less than a month British actors Kurtis Stacey (Emmerdale), Rebecca Grant (Holby City, Prisoners' Wives) and Lorna Doyle (The Tudors) are signed up alongside veteran actor Richard Syms and one of Germany's top TV performers Wookie Mayer. The Judas Curse was specially written for various Symi locations which is why the island is considered almost a character in its own right. The Judas Curse will be shot on the Greek island of Symi in October and released in the first half of 2014.

Kos Asklepion ruins
Kos trains

Kos tourist trains alert. Tourist trains, open-top coach companies and other Kos attractions may face new regulations as island authorities toughen up regulations. It follows rows over which companies get to run the most profitable routes as firms try to cash in on the popular tourist train trips. The Mayor of Kos Costas Kaiserli says the city council will discuss proposals to issue regulations and establish rules and best practice guidelines for companies running tourist trains and open-top bus tours of Kos. It comes after complaints that holiday tour companies make no contribution to the upkeep of roads they use and do nothing to ease the congestion they cause for other drivers. Proposals include a call to impose a tax on tour tickets to help compensate for the traffic and road problems they cause in the city of Kos. Thousand of holiday visitors take train trips around the city to see the main sights of Kos. The number of open-top buses operating in Kos has also risen as tourists queue for sightseeing rides. A report to the Kos city council says: "The movement of such vehicles burden the infrastructure of the island and also require an update of traffic studies to also take into account this factor." Top tourist holiday attractions in Kos include the Asklepion complex four kilometres to the south-east of Kos Town and set on hillside terraces, the 14th century Castle of Knights and several large excavation sights on the outskirts of the city. Some firms are claiming a monopoly on the most profitable routes but city officials are calling for more transparency and fairness in the allocation of routes and the building of necessary infrastructure to make tours as safe as possible for passengers. The large rise in cruise ship visitors this year has led to speculation that the port authorities may set up their own rival tourist trains to compete with those that operate in the city. The Mayor said it was "unthinkable" that the port would be allowed to set up rival tourist trains to cash in on the cruise ship arrivals when the city has spent so much in supporting marine tourism in the past.

Tingaki beach on the island of Kos
Kos tourist boost

Kos to boost tourist numbers. Kos is to step up moves to bring even more holiday tourists to the island. It is part of a joint plan with Crete and Cyprus to promote marine tourism in the region and to promote the islands to overseas visitors. A meeting later this month is being called on Kos "to enhance the competitiveness of our tourism product through the use of new technologies and highlighting the special features of all tourist areas of the island." In the pipeline is a six-point plan to boost tourist numbers on Kos next year. Measures include: A new travel portal focus on marine tourism.The creation of a 'tourism observatory'. To convert the old Kos cultural centre into a tourist information centre. To install 'infokiosks' and information signs all over the island. Prepare an advertising campaign to promote Kos on social networks and popular information hubs. Develop social networks for tourist promotion and information. Plans also include collecting material on the island of Kos to spread across social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Panoramio, Google Maps and so on as well as post island information on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The Municipality of Kos is to fund the programme promote the island and provide more information for holiday visitors.

Lindos castle and beach Rhodes
Lindos pollution

Alarm at pollution in Lindos. Alarm bells are ringing after a pollution incident in the hugely popular holiday resort of Lindos on Rhodes. Pollution in the top holiday resort was a problem for many years until a new waste treatment system was put in place. But a sewage pollution incident in the Psaltou area of Lindos has raised concerns about whether the sewerage system is up to the job. Prosecutors have questioned local people about the incident and ordered an investigation into what happened. But not everyone is happy with the situation in Lindos, a beach resort that attracts thousands of holiday visitors each year and is considered one of the most attractive beach resorts on Rhodes. An island newspaper is up in arms over the incident and claims the indifference to the incident could undermine tourism prospects for the whole of Rhodes. An article said: "In any other tourist place on the planet it would be unacceptable and unthinkable to allow this sort of pollution to be caused by us." A question mark still remains over the sewerage treatment system in Lindos where sewage and rainwater are mixed before being pumped out to sea Some years ago the municipality of Lindos investigated plans to constructed a biological waste treatment plant to process the wastewater sewage before pumping it offshore. But the project was abandoned and the contract never put into operation. Now there is talk of restoring the €1 million project. Authorities hope to restore the project next month to improve sewage treatment facilities in Lindos and prevent any re-occurrence of the latest incident

Mastichari Kos beach seaweed
Kos beach clean-up

Beach clean-up for Mastichari. Holiday visitors to the resort of Mastichari on Kos cannot fail to have noticed the rotting seaweed that lines the shore. The seaweed has been a problem for years both on the beach area and in the port that links the resort to the neighbouring island of Kalymnos. Now a massive clean up project in under way to rid the area of seaweed that not only mars the otherwise beautiful tourists beach but also accumulates in the Mastichari port area. Work will begin with dredging the marine waters to the west of the harbour to clear the sea basin of the huge amount of rotting seaweed. A resort official said: "This work and the immediate execution was absolutely necessary as the situation of the contamination of the area reached a very high and close to the limits of risk." The large accumulation of seaweed in the area is in danger of clogging sewer and effluent pipes, thus creating a significant health risk for the local population and for holiday tourists in Mastichari. The beautiful white sand beach at Mastichari is a firm favourite with holiday visitors to Kos but banks of seaweed often line the shore and the water can contain large banks of floating weed. Ferries entering the port at Mastichari also have to negotiation large clumps of floating seaweed that can also attract rubbish and detritus. The Mastichari town mayor, Costas Kaiserli,,has given orders for work to continue without interference until the seaweed is completely cleared from the beach and port area He said: "We want this work completed as soon as possible with the picturesque fishing village of Kos to become a pole of attraction for all residents and visitors to our island."

Racing yachts
Rhodes regatta

Talks on yacht regatta for Rhodes. Talks are under way to stage a major annual international yacht regatta and sailing competition on the holiday island of Rhodes. Island leaders say the even could bring in €60 million to local businesses each year and boost the island's economy. Talks have been held between Rhodes mayor, the island's hotel association and the Greek national sailing team over staging the event. Sotiris Bouza of the Greek sailing team said: ""The city of Rhodes is one of the places we've chosen to organize large and international sailing competitions in Greece. Rhodes has all the physical infrastructure the tourism and ability to host such games." The regatta would probably be held in spring or autumn and help to extend the holiday season on Rhodes. Staging such an event will require large infrastructure facilities, manpower and technical expertise but organisers are sure that Rhodes can tick all the boxes. They may also incorporate resorts in Italy and Cyprus to make it a major east Mediterranean tourist attraction. A similar even staged in Trapani, Italy, in 2005 attracted 500,000 people. There could also be considerable spin-offs from regular yacht regattas in Rhodes, not only in terms of filling out-of-season hotel rooms but in the creation of permanent yacht sailing and coaching facilities on Rhodes. It is estimated that each of the yacht racing competitions could boost the numbers taking holidays in Rhodes by 100,000, although in similar events the numbers have been much higher

Wilfires on Greek Island of Serifos
Widlfire alert

Rhodes holiday visitors on fire alert. Holiday visitors to the popular resort of Lindos on Rhodes are on a state of alert as wildfires threaten to spread. The annual round of forest fires on the Greek islands has hit yet again at the height of the summer holiday tourist season. Firefighters have managed to contain wildfire outbreaks on the islands of Rhodes, Crete and Serifos after battling big fires for several days. But in Rhodes, the fires threatened to run out of control as they headed north in the direction of the village of Vati and Apolakkia. The General Secretary for Civil Protection has declared a state of emergency in South Rhodes and in the major holiday resort of Lindos as the fire could threaten inhabited areas. Other fire outbreaks were reported in the villages Profilia, Istrio and Laerma, but they were quickly brought under control. According forest services more than 30,000 acres of forest land have already been lost in the blaze. In Crete a forest fire in Messara was under partial control but flared up again as the wind changed. Two helicopters were brought in to help contain the outbreak. The blaze burned greenhouses and crops and threatened to reach nearby houses and residents of the village of Andiskari were evacuated. The situation in Serifos is thought to be under control but only after villagers were forced to flee their homes. People living in region of Mega Livadi were evacuated by boat after fire spread across the main road. Villages at Koutalas and Mega Livadi were evacuated. There is no permanent fire service on the island and locals could only stand and watch as the fire spread. Some residents carrying suitcases jumped into the water to avoid the flames. "It was the worst fire ever on the island," some residents said.

Symi harbour
Symi visitors soar

Everyone in the Greek Islands welcomes this year's rise in tourist visitor numbers but it has brought some problems too. The island of Symi, in particular, is suffering under the weight of tourists who arrive on cruise liners and daily boat trips. Island officials report a massive 40% rise in tourist visitors so far this year sailing into the port at Yialos. Stressed-out police, who are required by law to check cruise visitors' passports already report two-hour queues as passengers wait to be processed. Once they get ashore the problems being again. The single narrow road around the harbour gets jammed with visitors. Symi mayor Lefteris Papakalodoukas is demanding help to cope with the massive influx of tourists. He said: "The last tourist who had to go through the process, waited 2.5 hours in line, resulting in severe irritation. We must not force visitors to pass from this time-consuming process because they will not come back." Not only is Symi a favourite port of call for scores of cruise liners on tours of the Greek Islands, but it's a popular day-trip destination for excursion boats from neighbouring islands such as Rhodes. The beautiful harbour bay is a major attraction in itself with pastel-painted houses tumbling down the hillsides of the attractive horseshoe bay. Thousand of tourists walk around the bay admiring the views and taking photographs. But they pose a traffic hazard on the narrow harbour road, the only one on Symi to be used by vehicles. The mayor added: "This is particularly so for ships that anchor on the side opposite the clock. As the only road used by vehicles in Yialos is very narrow, unsuspecting tourists descend from the ship and risk their physical integrity." Symi is also going through a heatwave at the moment with daytime temperatures over 40°C. Symi is sheltered from sea breezes by the Datca peninsula while the large, arid areas of rock that soak up the heat during the day and release it at night to keep night temperatures in the 30s.

Rhodes city gates
Rhodes traders

Rhodes needs ban on traders. Shopkeepers in the old medieval quarter of Rhodes have called for a ban on rogue street traders. Authorities have been urged to crackdown of the dozens of illegal street traders who make a living selling to Rhodes holiday tourists. Local politicians claim illegal traders have taken over the streets of the old medieval city of Rhodes and call on police to clear them away. They claim the situation in Old Rhodes has 'got out of control' with illegal traders setting up stalls and squats with impunity. Thousands of holiday visitors tour the streets and battlements of the historic medieval Rhodes Town – a UNESCO World Heritage site – every day. They make prime targets for local traders who offer everything from sweets and snacks to designer clothes and handbags. The medieval town in Rhodes was mainly built by the Knights of the Order of St John and walking the streets is like stepping back in time (if you ignore the other tourists). At the heart of the city is the Street of the Knights which climbs the hill to the Palace of the Grand Master. Visitors can wander the paved alleys, go under gateways and colonnades, cross squares and investigate obscure courtyards surrounded by battlement walls and dotted with Byzantine churches. There are 11 gates into the old city as well as six wide entrance ways into the medieval town as well as several small ones. Visitors are often pestered by traders and street beggars who mingle with the crowds and disappear quickly if police arrive. Now local politicians claim the beggars and traders are threatening the livelihood of legal traders who pay taxes and fees for their trading places.

Rhodes Diagoras Airport
Rhodes chaos

Rhodes tourists face airport chaos. Tourists flying into Rhodes Airport face chaos and delays as the peak summer holiday season looms, authorities have been warned. The biggest problem is the lack of co-operation between services and agencies which leave new arrivals to the island confused and bewildered. A report says: "The complete lack of cooperation from the central agencies for tourism is creating a complicated puzzle of suffering for thousands of people who choose Rhodes to come and spend their holidays." Rhodes' Diagoras Airport handles nearly three million holiday visitors each year but many face delays and confusion as they pass through the airport terminal. Tourist leaders blame a lack of organisation and co-operation between rival organisation and agencies which struggle to solve their own individual problems with no over-arching plan. The result is that holiday arrivals are taking longer and longer to get through the airport and away to their hotels. A recent problem with air conditioning saw temperatures soar inside airport buildings as hundreds of holidaymakers arrived. Especially troubling is the low staffing levels at the airport medical centre, especially at weekends when passenger traffic levels can be particularly high. Limited parking outside adds to the headaches and the lack of organisation in parking with taxis and hotel buses often parking on pavements, making it difficult for tourists dragging suitcases to find their way. The report warns that things will get worse in July and August when holiday traffic in Rhodes is expected to peak. Rhodes Airport, otherwise known as Diagoras Airport, is located 16 Km south-west of Rhodes town, on the northern coast The airport was built in 1977 and a new terminal opened in 2005 to cope with rising holiday traffic levels It is one of the busiest airports in Greece. Tourist leaders warn that first and last impressions are important in creating a good holiday image for Rhodes and that airport problems must be addressed if Rhodes is to stay a major beach holiday destination in the Greek islands.

Kos douglas zeta-jones yacht
Stars on Kos

Hollywood stars holiday on Kos. Hollywood superstars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones have arrived on the Greek Island of Kos on a summer holiday tour of the Mediterranean. The famous couple has chosen the Greek Islands before as the place to spend their holidays. Recently they anchored in the main harbour at Symi. They then set off for a short stay on the island of Kos in the Dodecanese to the Gulf of Gökova. It's not the first time that Douglas and Zeta-Jones have visited Kos which is high on their list of favourite holiday islands in Greece. Nikos Sofos, of the Unified Tourism Board of Kos, said the couple visit the same restaurant each night during their stay on the island. He said that last year on of the restaurant staff gave Catherine Zeta-Jones a sweet made from tomatoes and she liked it enormously. "This year, she ordered again the same sweet again so the cook bought a whole jar from the mini-market and offered it to her," he added. Only in Greece. The Hollywood couple are not the only ones to favour holidays in the Greek Islands. Rumours are rife that US pop icon Madonna is to holiday this summer on the Island of Ithaca. According to recent press reports, Madonna is making plans to visit the Ionian Island for the second time. She has stayed on Ithaca before with former husband, director Guy Ritchie when the couple was considering a summer home on the island. Many international celebrities have stayed on Ithaca over the years including Sophia Loren, Nicholas Cage, Tom Hanks, Jamie Lee Curtis and Steven Spielberg.

Medieval Rose Festival
Medieval festival

Rhodes medieval fair festival. Rhodes takes a trip back in time this month with its 'Medieval Rose' festival. The popular Rhodes island attraction is now its seventh year. Holiday visitors to the Greek island of Rhodes will find streets in the old city crammed with 'crusaders' as locals stage events throughout the last two weeks in June. As well as staging scenes of everyday life in olden days, the Medieval Rhodes festival organisers have also laid on a string cultural events that will attract tourist visitors. This has beens achieved with the help of historians, archaeologists, actors, musicians, artists, craftsmen and a whole host of volunteers who try t bring the medieval days to life again. Events this year include guides tours of Rhodes Medieval City, a dragon parade with medieval music and a 'Middle Ages' day in the castle moat with sword fighting, archery, horse riding, falconry and many other activities. Other resorts across the Greek island of Rhodes will be joining in the fun. At the popular holiday resort of Lindos there is a medieval Fayre and the Fires of the ancient Custom of Saint John Klidonas while the village of Monolithos stages its own Castle Fayre with live music, story-telling under the stars, traditional food and much more. The old town of Rhodes is an ideal setting for a medieval fair as the modern inhabitants on the 150 acre site live in the same houses that were once used by the Knights of St. John 600 years ago. The medieval town layout copies French cities of the 14th century with a wall dividing the northern part with its inner Acropolis and the official buildings of the Knights, from the southern part where most people lived. Thousands of holiday visitors on Rhodes pour through the old city each year to see the ancient walls with their bastions, battlements, towers and gates. The imposing buildings, studded with coat-of-arms, lined with Gothic windows and paved courtyards take Rhodes holiday visitors centuries back in time.

Kalymnos Myrties Beach
Kalymnos beach bar is tops

A family-run Kalymnos beach bar is voted a world beater in a survey by US TV news giant. A family-run beach bar on the holiday island of Kalymnos has been ranked one of the best in the world. A survey by TV news company CNN voted the Babis Beach Bar at Myrties beach the fifth best in its World's 50 Best Beach Bars. It ranks the Kalymnos beach bar alongside those in more exotic beach locations in Anguilla, Phuket, Cook Islands, Brazil and Bali. It calls the Babis a local hove of activity and a "well kept secret on the unsung Greek island of Kalymnos." It adds: "Babis and his family field everything a beachcomber could want. Once you're done with your hearty Greek breakfast, logging on to the free Internet, trying out all the various beers and wines and sleeping it all off by the free swimming pool or sun loungers, you can hop on a boat and take a ride over to its own sub-island of Telendos for one of the most spectacular sunsets in the Med." However, according to remarks about the list, some readers found it surprising that only one beach bar in Greece was mentioned. A family-run bat is linked to nearby apartments that were established in 1989 and boasts great hospitality and efficient service. Each apartment overlooks the sea and claims some of the most spectacular sunsets in the Aegean. The Babis Bar has its own private pool with sun beds as well as kayaks and canoes on the beach. They say the Babis Snack Bar is a very popular spot to meet, eat, drink and watch the world go by. Myrties is one of the most popular beach strips on Kalymnos island and the nearby mountains attract climbers from all over the world. The apartment ate close to the main rock climbing area of the island and it's only a three minute drive from the famous Odyssey and Grand Grotto climbs. CNN admits there is no formula or magic ingredients that guarantee a place in a list of the world's best beach bars. The survey has tried to include spots that range from the chic and smooth to the thrown-together shacks of driftwood. The only thing these places have in common, says CNN, is that once you've been, you start planning to get back there.

Kolymbia harbour Rhodes
Kolymbia chaos

Kolymbia traffic plan causes chaos. Bewildered holidaymakers on a visit to the holiday resort of Kolymbia on the Greek island of Rhodes are going round in circles. It's thanks to the one-way road system that was supposed to improve tourist traffic flows in and out of the holiday resort. Now local traders have declared the scheme a disaster and called for the new road system to be scrapped before the main Rhodes tourist gets under way. The Association of Shopkeepers in Kolymbia says the new system "did not improve in any way the movement of visitors, suppliers and residents but in contrast have created heated complaints about the chaotic situation." They have been joined by hoteliers, taxi firms and bus owners who are bewildered at the road signs and traffic signals. Buses and cars repeatedly ignore the new signs while holiday visitors in rental cars cannot find their hotels. They point to anomalies such as the case of two hotels, just 400 meters apart, which require a journey of more than 1km to get from one to the other if new road signs are followed. And cars parked along narrow roads make it impossible for tourist coaches to pass each other while to get to some areas of the resort cars must circle the area several times. Road maps showing the new one-way system contain a series of errors such as the mis-naming of roads and signals shown on maps which have never been installed. Local campaigners have called for a meeting with the chief prosecutor of Rhodes to get the system lifted and the one-way system cancelled until a solution can be found. In calling for a halt the local committee of hoteliers say they "consider these traffic arrangements excessive and ineffective" and denounce the municipal authority for the changes in traffic circulation around the holiday resort of Kolymbia Rhodes.

Rodini Park near Rhodes Greece
Rodini park

Rodini Park Rhodes gets new team. The Greek island of Rhodes has always been proud of its Rodini Valley Park which it promotes as a major Rhodes holiday attraction. Now the Rodini Valley park is to get its own management team to develop and promote the green space for both local people and Rhodes' annual holiday visitors. The main aim of the new body will be to enhance the park's features, manage its wildlife, protect its archaeological treasures and run cultural and educational events. Rodini Park was very popular in Roman times and is thought to be one of the first landscaped park in the world. The park is located in a green, shady valley just 10 minutes walks from the city centre of Rhodes. Popular with locals as well as holiday tourists, the densely wooded valley has a small stream and is home to a wide variety of wildlife including resident peacocks and deer. The park is a great escape from the heat and noise of the city where cool, shady pathways thread their way through woodland and along the banks of the stream. The Romans liked it so much they began landscaping the area as parkland, building an aqueduct and erecting park buildings which have remained to today. One of the archaeological highlights is the tomb of the Ptolemies lined with its 21 Doric columns that dates back to Hellenistic times . The park has grown so popular with holiday visitors over the past decade that the authorities in Rhodes are to set up a special organisation to manage it. The main objective will be the protection of the park and to keep its character while at the same time developing the park for recreation and relaxation,. The top priorities will be developing existing green spaces and creating new ones, enhancing the archaeological treasures, developing its educational role and promoting park cultural and artistic events.

Rhodes locusts

Rhodes island hit by locusts. Tourists probably wouldn't find fighting off locusts one of the highlights of abeach holiday on Rhodes. Local farmers too are particularly concerned at the 'biblical' danger to crops if their numbers get too high. Small wonder then that the recent emergence of the insects on the holiday island of Rhodes triggered swift action by the authorities. Farmers were issued with chemical sprays in a bid to reduce pest numbers before they get out of control. Locusts were first spotted in March and top scientists met agronomists and municipal officials to decide on how to deal with the problem. Chemical sprays were issued in areas around Maloma, Archangelos, Afandou and Archipoli where infestations were particularly high. Scientists say the outbreak is mainly due to favourable weather conditions and to the particular type of locust involved. They warn that the best that can be done is to contain the outbreak as it is almost impossible to eradicate the population entirely. A spokesman said: "These coordinated actions, if implemented for some years may in the long run reduce the population to manageable levels and to mitigate the harmful effects." Local farmers will have to consider the economic costs of protection and the effect on the natural environment as well as public and animal health. Farmers and beekeepers have been warned to steer clear of areas where chemical sprays have been applied for at least two days. Local authorities have asked people to alert them to any locust outbreaks on the island of Rhodes so that swift action can be taken.

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