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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.

Kos to Bodrum ferry
Kos back to normal after quake

Kos is open for holiday business as normal despite the strong earthquake that hit the island in mid-July. And to drive home the message the island is staging a raft of tourism promotions to reassure holidaymakers that everything is normal. A special English edition newspaper 'Greece is Kos' aims to showcase tourism highlights of Kos while a web campaign will push the holiday delights of the south Aegean islands. South Aegean tourism official Marietta Papavasileiou has been talking to tour operators to reassure them about safety while organising a series of press trips to get some media coverage. She said: "Kos is a safe and hospitable destination ready to offer its visitors the best of experiences." Extra promotions can be expected over the winter when most people make their summer season holiday bookings to Greece and the Greek islands. Tourist officials on Kos report no damage to hotels and tavernas on the island after the quake and no visitors reported any problems getting around or having fun. Inspections continue on many hotels as a safety precaution and the airport has operated normally. Ferries to the mainland are operating from the port at Kefalos on the south of the island after a tidal wave put the main port of Kos Town out of action. The powerful earthquake in the Aegean Sea between Kos and Turkey shook the islands and two tourists died when the roof of a bar collapsed in Kos Town. Around 115 were injured, many of them holidaymakers of various nationalities, when the 6.6 quake struck at around 1.30 am. The tremor struck at the peak of the holiday season when around 200,000 are on Kos. Fortunately, the damage was confined to a relatively small area of Kos Town. A tidal wave that followed soon afterwards put the main Kos port out of operation with the wave reported at about 70 cms high. Aftershocks continued for days afterwards with one recorded at 5.1. But Kos officials stress the island is back to normal with little or no effect on the island's infrastructure and business as usual on the beaches and in the hotels, bars and tavernas.

Rhodes may get a new Colossus statue
Rhodes may get new Colossus

The Greek holiday island of Rhodes may be in for a new visitor attraction in an ambitious plan to rebuild the Colossus of Rhodes. UK civil engineers are involved in the scheme to recreate the former Wonder of the Ancient World statue that once stood over the port of Rhodes. The original 30-metre high bronze Colossus was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. Now engineers, architects and designers from the UK, Greece, Spain and Italy plan to build an even taller Colossus that they claim can boost holiday visitors and the island economy. If it gets the go-ahead, the new Colossus will be 150-metre tall and feature a lighthouse, galleries, museums, a cultural centre, a library, restaurants and other visitor attractions. A spokesman for the consortium behind the Colossus project said: "With our work, we try to put Rhodes again on the world map and to restore its historical importance as a cultural bridge for three continents, attracting huge quantities of visitors every year." They claim the new Colossus of Rhodes can be built in three to four years at a cost of €240 – 260 million. International crowdfunding is being considered as an option to raise the cash. It is estimated it could attract visitors by the tens of thousand, help extend the tourist season on Rhodes by several months and raise €35 million a year in income. The original statue was erected in honour of the Greek god Titan in 280BC and was thought to stand on a podium in the centre of the harbour. Its ruins were thought to have laid in the water until Saracens pillaged the island in 654AD and removed, sold or destroyed the remaining relics. Architects say the huge statue can be covered in solar panels to make it self-sufficient regarding energy. The team behind the ambitious project include: Greek architect Ari Palla; Greek archaeologist Christos Giannas; Spanish civil engineer Enrique Fernández Menendez,; Italian architect Ombretta Iannone; Spanish economist Matilda Palla and UK engineer Eral Dupi. The mayor of Rhodes, Fotis Chatzidiakos, is backing the project which he believes will benefit Rhodes significantly, creating jobs, attracting tourists and placing Rhodes on the cultural map of the Mediterranean.

kos taverna
Kos is not a hellhole

The Greek Island of Kos has hit back at 'ridiculous' claims in the British Daily Mail newspaper that an influx of refugees has turned the holiday island into a 'disgusting hellhole' UK holiday visitors to Kos are bemused at the 'hellhole' tag as few come across any refugees as they sunbathe on the island's beaches. Locals on Kos have also attacked the article's 'racist and provocative' style that they blame for discrediting the popular holiday island as a tourist destination. An article for Kosinfo says: "Kos is a tourist destination that offers many promises to every visitor. It does not deserve such defamation." 'It is shameful and a blow for the international image of Kos and Greece to host such made up stories. Kosinfo "complains" and opposes to any vulgar and intolerant propaganda against the island.' The online holiday hotel booking site Trivago has reported a 50% drop in searches for Kos hotels since the article appeared and Kos hotel owners are concerned that the Daily Mail story could affect bookings at the start of the holiday season. A group has created a Facebook page directed against newspaper article that has already won considerable support from English visitors by notching up 3,240 likes in less than 24 hours. A site representative said it had clocked up 6,455 likes in seven days: "I won't lie about it, the response to this page was enormous! The amount of emails and pictures and videos was massive." There is no question that Kos, like many other Greek islands, is suffering a refugee problem. The numbers fleeing violence in Syria and Libya by sailing from Turkey to Greece has been rising for a number of years. It is thought that more than 1,500 refugees arrived on Kos in a 10-day period recently, joining 6,000 others who have crossed to the picturesque holiday island by boat in the last two months. Most are housed in an abandoned hotel complex before being shipped to other parts of Europe in countries that, unlike the UK, are offering the war-ravaged refugees a safe haven. The Kos police and local authorities are struggling to cope with processing the refugees who face a wait of 10 and 15 days before being granted permits to leave. Refugees with money can rent apartments while they wait to be processed, but those without means must stay in and the abandoned hotel which has been transformed into a refugee camp. Despite the problem most tourists on Kos are highly unlikely to come across any of the refugees unless they pay a visit to the police station or go to the harbour park at 7 am where any refugees are gathered for the early morning walk to the abandoned hotel. The refugees anyway are almost all harmless, shy, polite and very grateful to have escaped with their lives. There have been no reports of hostile, anti-social or unlawful behaviour by any refugees on Kos. This hasn't stopped the Daily Mail whipping up lurid tales that have triggered an outbreak of disgust even among the paper's own readers. Comments on the article include: "How sad for those British tourists – my heart bleeds for them – complaining because the refugees are 'ruining' their holiday.' and 'DM, you need to rewrite the whole article with a different perspective. This is embarrassing." It is not just Kos that is experiencing problems with refugees fleeing violence in the near East and in north Africa. Islands like Lesvos, Chios and Samos have reported similar problems. Meanwhile, the Greek Islands have seen a surge in holiday visitor numbers this year with airports reporting a 45% rise on last year, according to latest figures. More than 1.7 million visitors have opted for a holiday in Greece in the first three months year against 1.1 million in the first quarter of 2014 with the numbers from the UK booking holidays in Greece up by 37% thanks to good exchange rates against the euro and low prices across Greece.

homson Boeing737 manchester
Brits first on Rhodes

Rhodes is set to spearhead the Greek Island tourist invasion later this month when the first charter plane lands at Rhodes' Diagoras Airport. The Boeing 757 from Manchester is expected to land at around 8.15pm on March 28 effectively marking the start of the package holiday season on Rhodes. And the holiday island is set to greet the 'early-bird' British holiday arrivals in style with a special welcome reception that will include performances laid on by local acting groups. The Manchester flight, by package holiday giant Thomson, will just pip the post in starting the Greek holiday season on Rhodes this year. Just 35 minutes later another Thomson flight from Gatwick is expected to land at Diagoras with a full complement of holidaymakers. After March 28, incoming holiday flights arrive thick and fast with three flights the following day from Tel Aviv in Israel at 10.30am followed by a British Ryanair flight from the East Midlands and another from Belgium. A spokesman for the Rhodes Tourism GGG said:" England is the country remains firmly in first place and which this year will maintain the lead in the tourist season." No charter flights are due on the 30th but the last day of the month sees Ryanair flights arriving from Stansted and the following day the same company flies in from Stockholm carrying Swedish tourists. Tourism leaders across Greece and the Greek Islands are banking on another record year for tourist arrivals in 2015. It comes despite a poor start for 'early-bird' holiday bookings this season and concern over political unrest which saw the election of a new left-wing government last month. Fears that Greece might be forced to make an early exit from the euro also fuelled concern over booking holidays this year. Despite the difficulties and the negative image of Greece in some European countries, particularly in Germany, early signs in 2015 are promising. There is already an increase in charter companies booking airport 'slots' and tourism officials describe early figures for 2015 as 'promising'. The new Greek government has made extending the tourist season a top priority for 2015 with the intention of making Greece and the Greek Islands a year-round holiday destination. Incoming Minister of Tourism Elena Kountoura says the new Greek government is planning to cash in on the country's tourist potential after figures showed that tourism directly contributed €17 billion to the Greek economy in 2014. A study revealed that tourism was the only sector of the struggling Greek economy to have shown significant growth as rest of the country faced a tough austerity programme. The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) recently announced it's target four tourism numbers in 2015. It hopes to attract 25 million international arrivals in 2015, beating last year's total which is expected to top 21.5million. The optimism follows early indications that airline seat capacity on holiday charters flying to Greek airports this year has already increased by one million on the numbers for 2014. Holiday arrivals from the UK alone rose 13.2% last year while French visitors jumped 27% and German tourists by 8.5%.

kos kardemana hotel
Holiday plea for Kos tavernas

Couple complains of the rise in all-inclusive hotels which put traditional Kos taverna owners out of business. Regular holiday visitors to the island of Kos will no doubt have seen how popular beach resorts have been slowly turned over to all-inclusive hotel aimed at the growing cheap package holiday market. Each year sees a decline in the number of family-owned tavernas and bars that once catered for the independent Greek island holidaymaker as they have been driven out of business by cut-price all-inclusive holiday deals. Instead of wandering around the beach resorts in the evening to enjoy Greek dining in family-run restaurants, holidaymakers are opting more and more for meals served up in hotels as part of the cut-price holiday deal. Local shops too have suffered as holiday visitors stay within the hotel grounds, rarely venturing further than the hotel pool and the hotel bar. No more so than in Kos island beach resort of Kardamena where a disappointed UK couple are so upset by the loss of local tavernas they have written to the mayor pleading for something to be done. The letter reported in the Kos Explorer says: "We have been devastated by the decline of the village this year in particular. Where there were once beautiful shops, nice bars and restaurants there are now empty premises and quite frankly it is an eyesore for the first time visitors to Kardamena." They say more should be done by the Kardamena authorities to promote small family-run businesses that are unable to compete with the international chains of hotels that now predominate. The Manchester couple have taken holidays in Kardamena since 1987 but have seen a sharp decline in the local economy over the past few years. "We now ask you and the council to ask yourselves are you doing enough to help your people – our opinion would be no. Therefore it is now time for you to take control, promote the village of Kardamena and put a stop to the all-inclusives bleeding it dry," says the impassioned letter. They acknowledge the need for all-inclusive hotels and admit a rising demand for cheap price holidays but claim that the local economy is now being ruined by the large number of all-inclusive hotels that have been given the green light for building. The letter adds: "There are many small fine hotels and apartments who do not have the money or the clout to promote themselves and we feel that you and your Council are failing the good people of Kardamena ... more needs to be done to promote the excellent facilities in the village and there are people who like us come back year after year to our small, friendly, family run hotel. This loyalty you will not get from all-inclusive hotel guests." As well as helping to promote smaller business the local council is urged to press for more direct cheap flights to Kos so that more independent travellers can reach the holiday island through cheaper air fares. The shift to all-inclusive hotel holidays has had a significant effect on many Greek islands. Many small family-run Greek tavernas and shops rely heavily on casual passing trade. Wandering from taverna to taverna, comparing menus and prices, is thought by many to be a part of the traditional Greek holiday experience. But with cheap all-inclusive holiday hotel deals being so heavily promoted, many Greek holidaymakers remain within the confines of the hotel, their food and drinks already included in the price for the holiday. Not only are such holidays missing one of the great delights of a Greek holiday experience they are also helping to kill off small tavernas and bars faced with rising bills and taxes as well as fewer customers.

patmos st john monastery
Patmos on the tourist trail

Plans to promote the islandof Patmos as a top holiday destination will get off the ground this year. The Dodecanese island of Patmos has long been slightly off the Greek island holiday tourist trail but all that could be about to change over the coming years. Famous as the island where apostle St Paul wrote his Book of Revelation, the small island of Patmos also has several good sandy beaches and plenty of tourist infrastructure. The religious connection makes Patmos a popular port of call for Greek island cruises and its a favourite destination for Greeks. Now tourism leaders want to develop the island as a much better known international holiday destination. Greek government ministers met recently with island officials to discuss ways to promote Patmos as a holiday destination. Ministers particularly want not only to attract big spending high end tourists looking for luxury accommodation but to extend the tourist season beyond the high summer months. Plans are already in the pipeline to include Patmos in a visa-free pilot scheme which would allow non-EU visitors from Turkish ports to stay on the island without having to get a visa first. Ministers also plan to cut red tape for island hotel owners, ease the expansion of yacht marinas and promote Patmos at international tourism exhibitions. "Τhe uniqueness and religious tradition of Patmos are factors that can be further highlighted to boost arrivals to the island," said Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni on a visit to the island. A new ferry route linking  Patmos to the islands of Samos, Kos and Kalymnos is also expected to launch next year. Shipping lines have already lodged bids to run the new ferry services between Samos, Patmos, Lipsi, Leros, Kalymnos and Kos The new ferry route will also be promoted at international tourism exhibitions to attract an early interest in Greek island holidays on Patmos. The island will also get two new desalination plants to resolve the problem of a drinking water shortage that has troubled Patmos for a number of years.

villa de vechi rhodes
Mussolini villa goes on sale

Luxury villa on Rhodes on the market after 50 years. A Greek luxury holiday villa on Rhodes, built for Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, has been put on the open market after lying derelict for more than 50 years. The cash-strapped Greek government is offering a 50-year lease on the abandoned Villa de Vecchi as part of an extensive sale of government property in order to raise cash. The timber and stone Villa De Vecchi was built in 1936 by Count Cesare De Vecchi, a Mussolini loyalist who was appointed governor of the Dodecanese islands when they were seized by Italy from the Ottoman Turks in 1912. Mussolini never set foot on the island and the villa was abandoned when Rhodes was ceded to Greece in 1947. The villa has lain derelict ever since and is now covered in graffiti. The two-storey villa, built in the Alpine style, is located on the hillside of Profitis Elias near the east coast village of Archangelos about 25 kilometres south of the port capital of Rhodes. The Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund (HRADF) has the task of raising as much cash as it can from state property sales in a bid to reduce the Greek government debt. The dictator's villa is just one of 13 empty properties that are being offered as prospective small luxury hotels. Three for sale only with the remaining 10 offered for leasehold from 50 to 99 years. The Greek government is though to own more than 80,000 properties and real estate, from a castle in Corfu to a former US army base on Crete. Sales of real estate could rake in a significant amount of cash to help pay off its international debts. But the sell-off is not without its critics and some argue that Greece is too keen to put its national heritage on the open market. Among the potential luxury hotel sites for sale in Greece and the Greek Islands are eight 'Xenia' hotels, the result of a failed attempt by the Greek government to provide accommodation for a growing tourism industry. Abandoned hotels on the islands of Thassos and Andros may well appeal to international buyers. The fund's biggest deal was the sale of the old Athens airport site to a Chinese-Arabian backed development company for € 915 million following two years of negotiations.

pink floyd mansion
Rhodes Pink Floyd house sale

Price tag of €1.1 on property near Pefkos holiday resort. The former Rhodes holiday home of Pink Floyd band member David Gilmour has been put on sale with a price tag of around €1 million by the current owners. The beachfront mansion near the Rhodes holiday resort of Pefkos and which once hosted many of Gilmour's celebrity friends was sold to an Italian couple some years ago. The kitsch Art Nouveau pile is still referred to by locals as the 'Pink Floyd Mansion' and lies in extensive grounds overlooking Askeftos Bay with landscaped gardens and six guest houses in the grounds. The main mansion house is built on two levels with three bedrooms, two large courtyards, lush gardens and a large swimming pool complete with pool bar and ballustraded bridges. An impressive private drive sweeps up to the secluded property which has extensive views over Pefkos and a mountain backdrop. The sale is being handled by Savvaidis Real Estate and you can get a video tour here. It's not the only pricey plot on sale in the exclusive holiday region near Lindos. A 17th century mansion in the heart of Lindos on is also on sale at €2 million. The medieval building has been has been rebuilt over various historical periods and is approached through a spectacular stone arcade. Surrounded by high stone walls and renovated in the 1960s the mansion has hosted many celebrity guests over the years and has featured in prestigious architectural magazines and even a Hollywood movie. The sales on Rhodes come as prices tumble for real estate across Greece generally with many properties on sale at two thirds of their original value and forecasts that property prices may have fallen by as much as 40% by the end of the year. Figures from Eurobank Property Services indicate that house prices in Greece will keep dropping until 2016. Until now, prices have fallen 35% on average since the start of the Greek crisis with around 250,000 unsold properties currently on the market.

rhodes storm
Islands suffer winter storms

Heavy rains turn roads into rivers. With memories of summer holidays in the Greek Islands still in mind spare a thought for those living on Rhodes where strong winter storms continue to lash the island. The sun-kissed island of Rhodes may be a blaze of sunshine during the summer holiday season but this winter is one of the worst ever. The streets of Rhodes Town were compared to the canals of Venice after thunderstorms hit the island, turning streets into rivers and flooding homes, hotels and shops. The latest New Year downpours follow a series of winter storms that have killed as least three people, swept away by swollen rivers. The main road from Rhodes to Lindos was closed after reports of a landslide cause be persistent heavy rains and island fire services have been stretched to the limit responding to calls to help people trapped in their homes or stranded in cars. Fire crews have been pumping flood water from homes, shops and hotels right across the city of Rhodes but mainly in the areas of Rodini, Sgourou and Korakonero. Roads were blocked in the Rodini district when an electric pole came crashing into the street cutting electricity supplies to homes and hotels. River levels have risen all over the island and farmland is threatened by flooding with water described as "at dangerously high levels". In Afandou the water levels rose half a metre and the village square turned into a lake while torrents of water poured down roads leading to the beach. And Rhodes is not the only island to suffer problems from winter storms. Serious damage was reported on the island of Kos after storms led to swollen rivers and flooding on the road from Kos Town to Tigaki. Heavy rains brought high volumes of water down from the mountain, leaving cars stranded, homes flooded and crops damaged.

kos castle
Kos promotes historic park

Easier tourist access to heritage sites. Kos Town plans to do much more promote its historic centre and create an 'Open Archaeological and Historical Park' to attract more visitors. Kos town is already famous for its ancient heritage sites with nearly 30 major historic monuments and ancient town centre landmarks all within a few metres of each other. Many are enjoyed by thousands of visitors who add to the delights of a beach holiday on Kos with a walk around some of the best restored archaeological sites in Greece. But many more sites lie undiscovered among the back streets of Kos town with poor signposting and difficult access across busy town centre roads. Now the members of Kos Town council are looking at ways to enhance the Kos holiday visitor experience when touring the extensive historic sites and at schemes to provide easier access for tourists. Plans include a summer holiday season ban on car and motorbike traffic on roads that carve through the sites and easier access for walkers and those in pedal cycles. Other proposals include re-siting the Kos bus station nearer the historic areas, creating new car parks within and outside the historic centre and new information notices throughout Kos town. Other ideas being considered by Kos include the expansion of the yacht marina and a new cruise ship pier that could provide direct easy access to the archaeological sites for cruise ship visitors. There is certainly plenty for Kos holiday visitors to see. Not only is the 14th century Castle of Knights a major tourist attraction there are also a number of impressive ruins and major excavation sites right in the heart of Kos Town. The most notable is the Western Excavation, a 10-minute walk from Kos centre, which boasts some magnificent mosaics, imposing colonnades, ancient courtyards, Roman baths and a temple to Dionysos while the recently restored Roman Odeon amphitheatre is close by. There is also much to see at the Ancient Agora including the remains of a huge hall as well as ruins of the Temple of Hercules, a 5th-century Christian Basilica, and a shrine to Aphrodite.

rhodes storm
Storms sweep Rhodes

Two dead after severe downpour. At least three people have died in storms that swept across the island of Rhodes. Three women have died on the Greek tourist island and two men are missing after heavy rainfall hit resorts across the holiday island. A 27-year-old woman's body was found in the sea on Saturday near the resort town of Kremasti, one of the areas hardest hit by a severe three-hour downpour. Emergency rescue crews also recovered the body of a 40-year-old woman from a river bank after a helicopter with a 10-man specialized rescue team and dogs has been sent to the island of Rhodes to assist the search and later the body of a 63 year old was found. A state of emergency has been declared on parts of the island of Rhodes and many villages are without electricity after lightning struck power plants. Rescue workers say many basements of houses and stores across the island have been flooded and fire services received more than 130 calls for help with at least 20 people trapped in their homes or cars. Dozens of homes in the Rhodes holiday hotel areas of Ixia and Ialyssos had water supplies cut and no indication of when supplies will be resumed. The state of emergency was invoked after storms lashed the island with heavy rainfall thundering down for more than three hours. Rescue workers and soldiers have been conducting a search alongside the river Kremastis which was badly swollen by the storms. It is the second time this month that the island of Rhodes has been hit by severe weather. In the latest event, roads from Faliraki up the Chain, were transformed into rivers while the city of Rhodes was thrown into traffic chaos. The road from Tsairi to the airport has been declared unsafe after an entire section was damaged by storm water. Severe hailstorms also swept Ixia and Ialyssos and authorities recommend extreme caution despite the bad weather having now eased. People on Rhodes have been warned not use their vehicles unless it is strictly necessary as floods have left many roads in a dangerous condition with abandoned cars across the highways.

leros queen olga
Scuba park bid on Leros

At the wreck of one of Greece's legendary warships. Scuba divers on holiday on the Greek island of Leros could soon be able to visit the site of one of Greece's legendary warships. Vasilissa Olga or Queen Olga was a Greek destroyer named after Queen Olga of Greece that served with the Royal Hellenic Navy during the Second World War and was one of the country's most famous warships. The ship was sunk by German Junkers bombers in 1943 and the commander, six officers and 65 crew perished in the Gulf of Lakki in Leros . Visitors to the holiday resort of Lakki on Leros can see a monument that has been erected in honour of the ship and its crew. Now tourism leaders on Leros want to create a 'diving park' so that scuba dicers can visit the wreck which still lies on the sea bed. The mayor of Leros Kollias Michael has written the Greek chief of naval staff for permission to open the site so that divers can be taken on tours of the historic wreck. In a letter he says the Leros municipal councils wants "to showcase our historical heritage is an enormous legacy for today and for future generations." The island council wants to create a scuba park at the wreck of the destroyer " because beyond history will contribute effectively to the development of diving tourism on our island." A recent relaxation of rules on diving in the Greek islands has opened up the tourist potential for many dive sites that were once ruled out of bounds for divers. Many Greek islands are now creating special diving parks to promote underwater visits to historic sites and old shipwrecks are turning out to be one of the biggest attractions. The Queen Olga is one of Greece's best remembered warships after seeing action across the Mediterranean during World War II. Built at the Yarrow shipyard in Scotland she was the most modern ship of the Hellenic Navy at the outbreak of the war. She carried out naval raids against Italian shipping, helped sink an Italian submarine off Malta and sank an Italian transport ship off the Libyan coast. Olga also participated in the Allied invasion of Sicily and sank two German convoy ships near Astypalea. During the Battle of Leros she was sunk by bombers in the Gulf of Lakki in Leros and the wreck has remained there ever since. Relics from the ship and photos of the crew are on permanent exhibition in the Historical and Folk Art Museum of Leros in the resort at Alinda. Each year on Leros the ship is commemorated with a local holiday and ceremonies are held to honour the ship and its crew.

kos taverna
Kos workers protest

Low wages and poor conditions for holiday staff. Seasonal holiday workers on Kos are protesting at the low wages and poor working conditions for part time holiday workers. Hotel staff and taverna waiters claim they are being exploited by both employers and the government as they struggle to make a living. It comes as hotel owners and tourism leaders report a record number of holiday visitors to the Greek Islands and a steep rise in revenues for the tourism industry this year. Seasonal workers on Kos say they have seen none of the benefits of the surge in tourists this year despite hotel and taverna owners coining the extra cash. Now union leaders want full protection for seasonal workers who they claim are being stung by lower wages and higher taxes in austerity Greece. Changes in the law on benefit payouts to part-time workers could have a serious effect on income levels for seasonal holiday workers who can only find work during the summer holiday season on the Greek Islands. With a summer season only six months long, many rely on benefits during the winter lay-off when no work is available for them. But austerity cutbacks mean they may not be able to claim benefits while out of work. Unions say seasonal holiday workers work exhausting hours for starvation wages over the summer season yet now face substantial cuts in unemployment benefit. Meanwhile hotel and taverna owners on Kos have enjoyed one of the best holiday seasons ever with 926,000 arrivals at the airport of Kos between March and October as well as an increase in ship cruise visitors and ferry arrivals. A recent conference called for a big advertising campaign to bring more holidaymakers to Kos next year with an emphasis on sustainable tourist development. Cultural leaders on Kos are pleading for help to upgrade some of the island's major archaeological sites and boost tourist holiday visitors. Kos tourism leaders have drawn up a six-point plan to boost tourist numbers on Kos next year. Measures include a new focus on marine tourism; more tourist information points across the island, the erection of information kiosks for tourists; a campaign to promote Kos on social networks sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Panoramio and Google Maps.

archipelagos boat
Lipsi fishermen's appeal

Campaign to save marine mammals and fish stocks. Fishermen on the Greek holiday island of Lipsi have been urged to back an appeal to save their livelihoods and preserve fish stocks. There has been a dramatic decline in stocks of fish in recent years which has an caused inevitable competition between Lispi coastal fishermen and marine mammals such as bottlenose dolphins and the endangered Mediterranean monk seal. Now Greek marine conservation group Archipelagos has launched a campaign to save both marine mammals and fishermen from the effects of depleted fish supplies. The aim is to give incentives for fishermen to switch to nets with a larger mesh to catch their fish and, at the same time, protect endangered species. Lipsi is found in the eastern Aegean Sea and boasts a huge marine biodiversity, which includes many endangered marine mammals. The Greek island of Lipsi has a only a small population of around 800 and, apart from holiday tourism, the basis of the island's economy is small scale fishing. Many of the Lipsi islanders have small fishing boats and spend all night, every night working hard at sea to bring in the catch. But a drop in fish stocks has led to a serious conflict between the Lipsi fishermen and the marine mammals who feed on the same fish. Fish scarcity means marine animals increasingly snatch food directly from the nets of the fishermen. Not only can this cause costly damage to nets, but hard working boatman see their catch are also being 'stolen' and their livelihoods threatened. Hungry dolphins and monk seals can even become entangled in the fishermen's nets and die. This is obvioulsy detrimental to local populations, especially for the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal. A short-term solution is for fishermen to replace their small mesh nets with a larger mesh. Marine mammals tend to cause less damage to larger mesh nets while this type of net is also more selective, catching only larger fish and so contributing to more sustainable fish stocks. But switching nets costs money, so Archipelagos want to raise €5,400 in order to get the scheme off the ground and has appealed for cash aid towards the project A spokesman for Archipelagos said: "We are grateful for any amount you are willing to donate. We invite you to support this effort with your donation with as little or much support you can offer. Our goal is €5400, to cover the whole coastal fishing area of Lipsi. Anyone interested to see the campaign can visit and donations can visit the website of the Archipelago at Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation is an environmental non-profit organization founded in 1998 and committed to protect and defend the marine and island biodiversity of the North Eastern Mediterranean. Their main actions are to carry out scientific work about biodiversity conservation, work in close collaboration with the local communities and develop realistic and sustainable management measures, in cooperation with the island communities.

kos asklepio
Kos free culture plea

'costs are too high for cultural events'. Cultural leaders on Kos are pleading for help to upgrade some of the island's major archaeological sites and boost tourist holiday visitors. Top of the list is for Kos island's cultural groups to have free use of important archaeological and cultural sites, such as Kos Castle and the town's Odeon, to stage major events and exhibitions. Costs of hiring such prestigious outdoor venues is proving prohibitive and both locals and holiday visitors have been forced to watch important cultural events in places with inadequate facilities. In a letter to Greek culture minister Panos Panagiotopoulos, Kos leaders point to a recent cultural event on Kos which was held in an old factory and a "shame for the artists, for the Kos people and defamation for our guests." The event, which also attracts many Kos holiday visitors, was organised by the South Aegean Region and the Municipality of Kos but could gain no concessions from the government for holding it at any of Kos Town's archaeological sites. They particularly want free access to the Asklepion for the annual swearing of the Hippocratic Oath. This ceremonial event attracts hundreds of onlookers but requires a €3,000 hiring fee which the island says it can ill afford in these tight financial times. Asklipieio of Kos is one of the most important archaeological monuments of Greece, regarded as the birthplace of modern medical science by Hippocrates. Asklipieio was also a sanatorium as well as a medical centre and ancient doctors were also priests at the temple of Asklipios. As well as free access to important sight the Kos cultural leaders also want opening hours of important sites in Kos Town extended from 3pm to 7.30pm to encourage more holiday visitors. They also want work on CASA Roman site to be speeded up along with renovation work of the Museum of Kos. And they want better lighting in the Roman Odeon of Kos which remains dark despite having an electricity supply. They would also like to see the unification of the archaeological sites that lie across the town of Kos. The excavated archaeological sites in Kos are dominated by the Western excavation. Ancient ruins here include a Roman nymphaeum with mosaic floors and the foundations of several fine houses. The best is the House of Europa where a floor mosaic depicts Europa being carried off by a bull. The highlight is the Casa Romana – a 3rd century Roman villa recently restored. It has three courtyards, some swimming pools, and several mosaics. Nearby is the Roman Odeon theatre now beautifully restored.

Lindos castle and beach Rhodes
Rhodes a hit with Russians

'a major reversal of the tourism landscape'. The rising popularity of Greek Island holidays with the Russians seems almost without end as numbers keep on growing. Latest figures reveal a major reversal of the tourism landscape in Rhodes with more Russian visitors to Greece this year than any other country, including Britain and Germany. UK and German holidaymakers once topped the table of holiday visitors by a large margin but the Russian holiday tourist market is now the biggest growth area for tourism on Rhodes. In terms of overall traffic September has been one of the best months for Rhodes this year beating last year's record visitors and breaking through the 300,000 barrier. In September, holiday charter flights to Rhodes flew in a total of 313,151 passengers compared to 280,876 last year, an increase of 11.5% But the biggest surprise was that UK holiday visitors dropped to second place and German came in the third, followed by Israelis and Italians who occupied the fourth and fifth places. Russian visitors to Rhodes came in top of the table with 53,956 arrivals in September, a jump on 64% on last year while UK holidaymakers rose only 7% to 38,456. Figures for cruise ship visits to Rhodes were, however, disappointing as marine tourism continues to fall and fewer cruise ships dock in Rhodes. Port authorities recorded 57 cruise ship arriving in Rhodes carrying total of 58,445 passengers, while in September last year there were 72 cruise ship visits to Rhodes beinging 69,192 holiday visitors. Rhodes is one of the most popular holiday islands in Greece, steeped in ancient history and claiming over 300 days of clear sunshine a year. Rhodes is located to the south of the Dodecanese island group that follows the coast of Turkey and its sandy beaches and ancient sites make it one of the most highly prized holiday destinations in the Mediterranean. Many beach resorts in the north and east are geared to package tourism and the top holiday hotspots are packed with fun loving holiday crowds. But Rhodes is big enough to accommodate the high visitor numbers and the south of the island has many wild and windswept beaches to escape the crowds.

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