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Kos island news and views

Kos lies in the middle of the Dodecanese chain of Greek islands that follow the Turkish coastline between Rhodes, in the south, and Patmos, in the north. Kos holidays are hugely popular with the British and Kos is one of the best for a typical beach holiday. As well as the nightlife of Kos Town and a plethora of sandy beach resorts, Kos also offers some of the best archaeological sites in the Mediterranean.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

Kos airport plane landing
Kos holidays

Kos island holidays back on track. Kos is back on the holiday map after a surge in UK visitors to Kos in April. British arrivals at Kos airport jumped nearly 19% on April last year with 3,845 holidaymakers flying in from the UK alone. Total tourist arrivals on Kos from all over the world were 17,458, an increase of 10.6% on last April's figures. It has confirmed reports fro all over the Greek Islands that the worst is over after dramatic drops in tourist numbers at the end of last season. Street riots and strikes in protest at austerity measure imposed for bailout loans for the Greek economy saw holidaymakers cancel flights and hotel bookings in droves. But this year has seen a dramatic turnaround in fortunes with some experts forecasting a record year for Greek Island holidays in 2012. But while overseas visitors soared, Kos has seen a 16% drop in domestic arrivals to 7,100 as hard pressed Greeks decide to ditch holiday plans this year. Other countries showing a rise in holiday visitors to Kos were France up 57%; Netherlands up 39.8%; Russia up 33%; Norway up 9.6% and Italy up 7.7%. But Germans are still staying away from the Greek Islands this year as reflected in a 42% fall in arrivals on Kos in April at 1,421 compared to 2,446 last year. Other big fallers were Belgium down 51.4% and Lithuania down 11.3%. on last year. According the figures from Kos Airport, flight arrivals on the island brought in a total of 19.318 holiday tourists in April while in 2012 the total number was 7,458 holidaymakers.

Kos airport holiday arrivals
Kos airport police

Call for more Kos holiday airport police. There are not enough airport police to deal with the thousands of holiday arrivals on Kos each year, the Greek government has been warned. Although Kos island has the same number of annual holiday arrivals as Corfu, it has three times fewer police officers. The Dodecanese islands MP, Mika Iatridi, claims the distribution of airport police throughout the Greek Islands is unfair. He claimed holiday arrivals and departures from airports on Kos and Corfu were roughly similar but that Corfu had about 80 more airport police than Kos. He added that Corfu airport now has the same police strength as the popular holiday island of Rhodes which has double the number of tourist arrivals each summer season. Last year, police numbers at the main Greek Island airports of Rhodes, Kos, Corfu, Chania and Heraklion on Crete were beefed up to meet the increased demands of summer holiday tourist traffic. But there has been a large disparity in the distribution of officers across the Greek Islands. According to 2012 figures, 839,759 passengers arrived on Corfu and 843,548 departed through airport checkouts. The 2012 tourist arrival numbers on Kos were similar at 802,760 and 802,698. Yet Kos has only five permanent police stationed at the island airport with 17 police cadets and 12 recruits while Corfu airport has 17 permanent police, 57 cadets and 40 police recruits. Mr Iatridi added: "In addition, the airport of Rhodes, with almost double the traffic of passengers abroad, has approximately the same police numbers as Corfu airport." He has called for a more even distribution of police and that officers be allocated according to the amount of tourist holiday tourist traffic through the respective Greek Island airports.

Kos to Bodrum ferry
Kos looks to Turkey

Kos builds tourist links with Turkey. The holiday island of Kos plans much closer ties with neighbouring Turkey in a move to promote more tourism between the two. More than 80 holiday firms from Kos and Turkey met on the island to thrash out joint initiatives to create stronger links. Guests visited archaeological sites and tourist attractions around the island of Kos during the three-day conference. But the main bushiness of the day was setting up tourist links between the Greek and Turkish holiday companies in the first ever 'Turkish-Greek Tourism Forum Kos'. Kos already has strong links with the Turkish holiday resort of Bodrum with regular ferry services and tourist day trips both from Kos to Bodrum and from Bodrum to Kos. The conference aimed to strengthen those links and to build on new ventures that could increase holiday tourism on both sides. While on Kos, the Turkish delegates visited many local Kos attractions including the International Hippocratic Foundation of Kos, local vineyards and beach resorts at Tigaki and Mastichari as well as beaches at Kefalos and Kardamena.

Kos Asklepion ruins
Kos health

Alert over health services on Kos. Falling ill while on a Greek holiday on Kos and other islands could prove a problem this year as medical services suffer in the recent austerity drive. A shortage of medical staff and supplies means that some Greek Islands are struggling to provide health services to locals as well as tourists. On Kos, the health service situation has been described as "tragic" as protests have poured into the Greek health minister. Problems focus on the Kos Town hospital, the island ambulance service, the health centre at Antimachia and the shutdown of the microbiological laboratories on the island. A letter to the health minister warned "For several months we have daily complaints and appeals because of serious problems that have accumulated in the field of health services on the island. We request your immediate intervention in order to provide solutions that improve the plight of the level of health services on the island. It is imperative that immediate relief of 35,000 residents of Kos and Nisyros and hundreds of thousands of visitor" Kos, of course, is the island of Hippocrates - the father of medicine - but government austerity cutbacks have had a sever impact on island medical services including: The general hospital of Kos has shortages of medical, nursing and support staff, drugs, food and fuel.The Health Centre Antimachia which opened only five years remains closed through lack of staff and equipment.The Ambulance Service of Kos lacks modern ambulances and staff necessary to respond adequately especially over the summer period when the population of the island multiplies five times.The Dolphin Life and Hope health unit,which serves remote islands off Kos, has been axed for lack of funding.The island microbiological laboratories have closed along with radiological laboratories so islanders must travel to Kalymnos and Rhodes for blood tests. Kos islanders blame underfunding of the public health system as well as bureaucracy and indifference of government officials. They say pharmacy prices are now so high that sick people are even travelling to Turkey to get cheaper drugs. The minister was told that Kos the birthplace of Hippocrates, has 35,000 residents and 100,000 hotel beds and makes a significant contribution to the GDP of Greece but still lacks decent health services and that this could put the island's reputation as a top Greek Island holiday destination at risk. Southeast of Kos Town stands the famous ancient site of Asklepion, dedicated to Kos' native son Hippocrates and founded in 444 BC not long after his death. It is now a major tourist attraction.

Hippocrates Garden Mastihari Kos
Kos garden

Kos culture garden pleads for funds. Kos is not only a popular Greek island holiday destination it is also known as the island of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek philosopher and considered the father of modern medicine. The north coast Kos holiday resort of Mastichari is also home to the unique Hippocrates Garden cultural centre now celebrating its fifth year. The unique centre should be on the main tourist trail for Kos holiday tours but lack of a good road is keeping tour firm visitors away. Now the centre needs sponsors to help them construct a decent road so they can continue their work for the children and visitors who want to learn more about ancient Greek culture and civilization. The centre is a replica of an ancient 5th century BC Greek settlement that would have existed at the time that the great Greek doctor lived. It consists of an Oikos , an ancient Greek house, a Philosopher's Arcade with three museums and libraries, a stone theatre called the Dancing Satyrs Theatre, a botanical garden and a replica temple. The centre promotes ancient Greek culture and architecture, its philosophy and history and more than 3,000 children have come from all over Greece and have helped plant some 2,000 trees, herbs and food plants. As well as projects on Greek history, philosophy, and ancient Greek medicine, visitors also get to learn about recycling, the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and the need to protect wild life. Its main source of revenue comes from summer visitors but lack of a good road to the centre has kept it off the main tourist trail. Visitors have to bump there way down a 1.5km dirt track to get there and the centre website doesn't even have a map to show how to get there. Organizers have asked the local municipality for help, but the current financial difficulties in Greece make it unlikely that money can be found to surface the road. Anyone willing to offer any kind of help can visit the official website of the centre: www.hippocratesgarden.gr or send an e-mail to info@hippocratesgarden.gr

Greek island goats
Bluetongue outbreak on Kos

Kos island sheep disease spreads. Sheep and goat breeders on the Greek islands are in despair as a deadly virus sweeps through their flocks. Greek livestock farmers have reported outbreaks of 'bluetongue' in Kos, Rhodes and other islands in the Dodecanese. Bluetongue is a disease that can decimate flocks and cost farmers thousand of euros. Now dozens of cases have been reported daily and farmers are appealing for help to fight the outbreaks. Bluetongue is a disease which is spread by midges and symptoms include ulcers, lameness, internal bleeding and the tell-tale discolouration of the tongue. It affects all ruminants, including sheep, cattle, deer, goats and even camels, although sheep are usually the most severely affected. The outbreak is so severe on Kos that the island Mayor has written to the Minister of Rural Development calling for action to contain the spread of the disease and to compensate farmers already affected. He said: "Bluetongue is principally affecting the population of sheep and goats in the island of Kos which results on a daily basis the death of dozens of animals and is expanding the economic misery of the farmers." Bluetongue, which does not affect people, is normally found in Mediterranean countries but has spread north with global warming. Infected animals may be culled initially in an attempt to stop the virus becoming established in midges but widespread slaughter of animals is unlikely as it would not affect the insects which are responsible for spreading the disease. Not all animals develop symptoms, but all those that do lose condition rapidly, and the worst affected can die within a week. Recovery in animals that survive is very slow, lasting several months. The occurrence of the disease is usually seasonal in Mediterranean countries amid worst in the summer when insect numbers are higher, subsiding when temperatures drop and hard frosts kill the adult midges. But the milder winters across the Greek islands have resulted in higher and longer lasting insect populations. At least four farms in the south of Rhodes are known to be infected and animals have already been slaughtered in a bid to contain the disease. On Kos island it is estimated by the Association of Professional Breeders that a third of the island's total herd may be affected. The Greek islands of eastern Aegean, such as Kos, Chios, Samos and Lesvos are the most vulnerable to the bluetongue virus as the disease can be carried by mosquitoes from neighbouring Turkey. As a non-European Union (EU) member, Turkey does not have to comply with EU animal health regulations. There have been outbreaks of different strains of the disease in Greece, Italy, Corsica and the Balearic Islands since 1998. The last case of Bluetongue detected in Great Britain was in 2008 but there have been no cases since and the UK is officially declared free of the disease.

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