Few places anywhere in the world would receive more cruise passengers on a daily basis than Santorini. According to the Hellenic Port Association, the Greek isle welcomed 636 cruise vessels in 2015, with some 790,000 passengers arriving via its Athinios and Fyra ports.
But while mass tourism may have been good for some local businesses, authorities and residents have long harboured concerns about the social and environmental impacts created by the vast influx of cruise ship visitors, particularly during the peak holiday season.
With this in mind, Santorini authrorities will introduce a plan to manage the flow of cruise traffic to the tourist hotspot that will cap passenger visitors to the island to 8,000 per day.
While that may still sound like a lot, it is significantly less than the 10,000-plus visitors the island receives on some days during May to October.
According to Kathimerini newspaper, the rationing system aims to ensure the island does not receive more passengers than it can efficiently and effectively serve and to facilitate a more even distribution of traffic across weekdays to avoid days with excessive arrivals.
More flexibility will be given to cruise passengers arriving this year due to the advanced scheduling of some itineraries, Port fund president Ilias Pelekis told Kathimerini.
In February this year, a ticketing system was introduced at Italy’s Cinque Terre U.N. World Heritage Park, which placed a similar limit on visitor numbers.
In related news, at ITB Berlin this week, Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) president Andreas Andreadis said foreign tourist arrivals in Greece could climb to 25 million in 2016, making it a record year.
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