Author Topic: Paradise sold  (Read 6665 times)

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Offline Maik

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Paradise sold
« on: Thursday, 29 December, 2022 @ 20:46:36 »
Greece Sold Paradise on Corfu – Then Came Activists, Rich Opponents

Much of the verdant Ionian island Corfu, one of Greece’s most popular destinations, has already been turned into a hodgepodge of developments making a few people very rich, and threatening to destroy the reasons why people go there.

That included arguably its best and most untouched spot, Erimitis, a forested peninsula on the northeast coast within site of the Albanian coast, whose 121 acres was sold in 2013 to the New York investment firm NCH Capital.

The company’s plans were to create a private enclave for the rich that would keep away tourists from beaches accessible only by boat, setting the whole area aside for its customers exclusively.

Promising $120 million in development, NCH Capital got a 99-year lease in another chapter of successive Greek governments selling off public beaches to developers who make them private beaches and essentially gated communities for only their high-paying guests.

The locals weren’t happy and it has taken nearly a decade of opposition from the mayor, activists, naturalists, environmentalists, the widow of author Gerald Durrell, whose family lived there, and unlikely allies in super-rich part-time residents – and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – to put it on hold.

In a feature for The Daily Beast, writer Alex Sakalis featured how the oddball loose coalition has so far succeeded in some measure in slowing the plans that were approved ironically by the former ruling anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA.

When they were ousted, the New Democracy government backed the project even more strongly, even passing a law to prevent a local official from using power to stop it, overwhelming the resistance.

Xenia Tombrou, an activist on the island told the site that, “When we first saw the plans, we were horrified.” The proposed development included the construction of a 90-room five-star hotel, 76 rental bungalows, 40 villas, a 57-berth marina, a 5-km road and several car parks. “It would be the end of Erimitis as we know it,” she said.

“It really is a paradise,” says Xenia. “For a piece of Mediterranean coastline to have remained so unexploited, unsettled and unchanged for so long is rare,” she said. But Greek governments wanting money didn’t care.

Erimitis, because of its inaccessibility, has been a favorite place for hiking, swimming, or just enjoying nature. There are no hotels, villas, restaurants or beach bars. You bring what you need and leave nothing behind, the report said.

That also made it a lure for NCH Capital which saw the potential before a recent rush of similar luxury developments around Greece is turning most of its most beautiful places into playgrounds for the rich.