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Leros island news and views

Leros has fast becoming one of the more sought destinations for upmarket holidays in the Greek islands, and growing in popularity with visitor numbers up each year. Leros is located in the Dodecanese island group off the Turkish coast and between Kos to the south and Samos to the north. Leros has a long and heavily indented coastline with some of the deepest waters in the Greek islands offering sheltered bays for ferries and yachts.

The Hoppet Sailing Ship
Leros welcomes the Hoppet

Leros island holidaymakers have been dancing in the street since the arrival of the Hoppet sailing ship. They were joined by local people and Syrian refugees on the harbour at the main port of Lakki for a display of traditional Greek dance. The Hoppet is a wooden-hulled sailboat that is sailing the Greek islands as part of a three-year artist project called 'Meeting the Odyssey'. The 22-metre sailing ship has two masts, eight sails and ten cabins that sleep up to 20 people. On board are actors and entertainers from all over Europe, who stage social and artistic events as they sail to various islands. It is all part of a social and artistic programme that launched in the Baltic Sea in 2014 and arrived in Leros this month where the theatrical crew has been organising workshops and performances. The street dancing was their final event before sailing off to the island of Lesvos where it will dock for a week. The Hoppet will then sail on to visit Lavrio, Elefsina, Ikaria and Skyros and Ikaria as part of its Greek island hopping tour. Among the harbour-side crowd at Lakki on Leros were child refugees from Syria and Afghanistan who are being held in a local hospital until they are reunited with their families. The 'Meeting the Odyssey' project is the result of a collaboration between various art and theatre organisations from several European countries. More than 350 artists have joined in the performances of 'Meeting the Odyssey' as it has sailed around various countries in the Baltic and Mediterranean and around 20,000 have watched the performances at 25 ports of call around Europe. The Greek islands are part of the last tour for the project. Greece was chosen in tribute to its cultural heritage and to show solidarity with Greece during its economic crisis. A spokesman said: "We wanted to do something that would unite Europeans instead of dividing us. With a ship filled with theatre, we wanted to enhance intercultural dialogue and overcome prejudices." "We are very proud to begin the Greek Island tour in Leros in the Dodecanese, a small island known for its traditional music and dance activities."

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.

Wind farm in Greece
Leros windfarm plan

Wind farm plan for Leros islands. The Greek island of Leros looks set to give the go-ahead to a massive wind farm project in a bid to boost the island's finances. The wind farm company Cycladic Meltemi wants to erect wind turbines on several uninhabited islets offshore of the popular Greek island of Leros in the Dodecanese. The scheme is being backed by the Leros island council after it was told the wind farm could pump €1.7 million a year into the local economy as well as create hundreds of new jobs. These are not the lovely old windmills such as those that grace the skyline above the Leros beach at Panteli near the Venetian castle above Platanos, a favourite day trip destination for Greek island holiday visitors. These are modern wind turbines and would be erected on the offshore Leros islets of Levitha, Kinaros and Liadi. Company experts say they could produce a massive 580 megawatts of electricity each year. Operation of a typical 10 megawatt wind farm can provide enough power to supply about 7,250 households and save the equivalent of 2,580 tons of fuel oil. The islands around Leros get significant winds, particularly in the late summer and early autumn when the 'meltemi' blow strongly from the north. The Mayor of Leros got approval for the plans at a recent meeting of the island council. He said: "Hopefully this major project will bring huge profits for the island of Leros." The Author: Dabs Banner is a travel writer for popular online publications such as Cyprus Beach and City Break Savvy.

Leros airport takeoff
Leros airport

Leros airport under threat of closure. Leros islanders are urging the Greek government not to close its single small airport which links Leros to Athens and to other islands. The airport on Leros island is one of a number that Greece plans to sell off to the private sector in a bid to swell the country's depleted national coffers. Those airports that find buyers will be sold off to the highest bidder while others may simply close to save government cash. A recent meeting of Leros councillors is calling on the Greek government to think again about selling off the vital island air link. Leros Airport is located in the north of the island near the village resort of Platanos. The runway is only long enough to accommodate small planes but it has operated flights since 1984. Olympic Airways has flights to Athens, Kalymnos and Astipalaia and figures show it handles around 10,000 passenger flights a year to and from the island. The Fund for the Exploitation of State-owned Private Property (TAIPED) is a new Greek public agency created to oversee the Greek government's privatization plans. It plans to dispose of 29 of the country's airports. Private investors have expressed interest in taking over many of the larger airports such as the one at mainland Thessaloniki and on the major Greek holiday islands of Crete, Corfu, Kos, Rhodes, Zakynthos, Santorini, Lesbos and Chios. But smaller airports, such as the one on Leros, are unlikely to attract any private capital and look set to be closed with the land sold off to developers. The privatisation plan, drafted by the Greek government, aims to raise around €50 billion for the state's coffers by 2015. The sell-off also includes stakes in state owned ports, natural gas and oil fields, as well state-owned football and racehorse betting companies, a casino and metal manufacturing business.

Lakki harbour on Leros
Leros festival

Leros plans boat show and music festival. The Greek holiday island of Leros may be about to launch an annual boat show and music festival. UK investors are in talks with officials on Leros to stage a long-distance yacht regatta in 2013 with the finishing line in Leros. The event could be concluded with a jazz festival and Leros may also stage an international boat show in one or both of the two Leros island marinas at Lakki and Partheni. Funding of the events will come from private sources but island councillors have been asked to make land and facilities available for the ambitious project. If it gets the go-ahead, the yacht race, boat show and music festival could be a major shot in the arm for tourism on Leros island. FInancial backers point to increased tourism on Leros, especially from big money tourists. They say they want to "change for the better the status of the island on the international scene and to raise the level of service without changing the character of Leros". The yacht race will be staged by a recognized Mediterranean sailing club interested in a long-distance sailing race covering 1000 nautical miles and run over 12-15 days and ending in Leros. Backers claim a Leros boat show would provide a dramatic climax to the yacht race finish as well as helping make Leros a magnet for tourists. Both marinas on Leros could provide safe anchorage for boats and a wide road along the Leros waterfront can provide plenty of parking as well as room for exhibition tents, pavement cafes and other tourist facilities. Organisers are impressed by the amount of land available, the well protected harbours and ideal depth of the sea along the available jetties near the harbour. The planned music festival could attract international artists from America, Europe, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and other countries as well as Greek musicians and artists. including the Leros Fisherman's Chorus made up of members of the local fishing community. Leros island is located in the north Dodecanese group between Kos and Samos. It has a long coastline with many deeply indented bays and some noted deep water harbours.