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Greek scuba diving parks get a boost

- by Dabs Banner

Greek island scuba diving holidaymakers will soon be able to explore more historic underwater marine sites.

Greece plans to open a major official scuba diving underwater park this year off the Greek island of Evia.

The diving park will include 26 shipwrecks in waters off the islands of Evia, Styria, Petalioi, and Akio.

Opening up underwater diving parks in Greek waters has been high on the agenda since Greece relaxed its strict rules on scuba diving.

Greek Culture Minister Aristides Baltas told local mayors that all the paperwork hurdles had been cleared to allow the project to proceed in 2016.

It will mean that Greek holiday divers will be free to explore some of the most important wrecks on the ocean floor for the first time.

It is hoped that the marine park will boost both national and local economies and create new jobs.

Attica Prefect Rena Dourou said: "This is both a challenge and an opportunity: a challenge because our country can and must secure its reputation as a world diving destination."

Scuba diving holidays look set to play a much bigger role in the Greek Island holiday market with the rapid growth in underwater archaeological theme parks.

A number of dive sites have opened since the lifting of severe restrictions imposed to protect shipwrecks and historical artefacts from being plundered

The Greek government is confident that relaxing regulations could boost the scuba diving industry in Greece and offer a chance to promote alternative tourism while still protecting important sites.

Divers can now explore dozens of sites with special theme park areas designated to allow guided underwater exploration by tourists.

They include marine parks located off the Peloponnese coast near the holiday area of Pylos, in the Bay of Navarino where a number of 19th-century shipwrecks are now open to scuba divers and the seabed in the North Sporades where an underwater museum park with ten shipwrecks is being developed.

The scuba diving sites are not only of interest to those who enjoy underwater archaeology but those looking to enjoy the vibrant, teeming marine life of the Aegean.