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Symi island 'suffers' rise in visitors

- by Dabs Banner

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.