Greece using drones to crackdown on sunbed hoggers and issue €350,000 fines

Greece using drones to crackdown on sunbed hoggers and issue €350,000 fines

Almost 33 million people visited Greece in 2023, five million more than in 2022 (Picture: AP)

Drones have been deployed to monitor tourists in parts of Greece as fighting for sunbeds is spiralling out of control.

The age of drone warfare is disrupting ‘beach-hogging’ in hotspots such as Corfu, Chalkidiki peninsula, and Attica – the region around the capital Athens.

In a bid to counter over-tourism, authorities have been investigating ‘more than 1,000 complaints’ by the public on a special app, ‘MyCoast’.

They are cracking down on dubious tourist practices using surveillance UAVs and satellite imagery to follow up on reports from locals.

In addition to tourists, they are investigating bars and restaurants that are illegally covering beaches with sunbeds and tables.

Under new rules introduced in March, umbrellas and deck chairs must be at least four metres from the sea.

The ‘beach towel movement’ activists have forced authorities to take a closer look at a widespread practice of illegal beach encroachment by tourism operators (Picture: AP)

Additionally, no rentals are allowed on beaches that have less than four metres of sand.

As a result, about €350,000 worth of fines have been issued in just five days, the government said Monday.

The majority of fines clamped down on sunbeds and umbrellas taking up way too much space on the beach.

Officials also recently suspended three ‘unlicensed’ beaches operating without a proper contract.

Drones will fly over the famed Cyclades and Dodecanese islands – near the Turkish coast – over the next few days to flag potential violations.

The government was forced to take measures after residents on the southeastern island of Paros launched protests dubbed the ‘towel’ movement, demanding free, unencumbered access to the seaside.

They denounced the appropriation of many beaches by the businesses deploying parasols and deckchairs rented by the day, some at high rates.

Economy minister Kostis Hatzidakis said in a statement: ‘Our goal is to protect the environment and the right of citizens to access the beach freely, and to preserve our tourism product as well as healthy entrepreneurship.’

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