Updated: May 6
Living in Chania Crete for the last 16 years and having been working for some of the biggest incoming Travel Agencies here , I have a clear view of the Touristic & Travel matters in our region. After all these years, it is clear now & I have made my decision to inform, create a network or get in contact with people who are visiting Chania or care about eco-sustainability in general. We cannot avoid old problems any longer, leaving the local authorities & the tourism-travel society to deal with them according to their own needs.
Chania is blessed & cursed with two of the most beautiful beaches not only on Nationally but also on the International level. You have probably heard of or visited Elafonissi or Balos sea lagoons. We will take the chance to go a little deeper with Elafonissi this time. Situated in the South West part of the Chania region & 70 kms. away from the city centre, it became very popular & well known because of its pink sand & light blue shallow waters. First of all, let’s make it clear that there is no pink sand. The pink color comes from millions & millions of broken shells, smaller or bigger, that stay on top of the sand & create this illusion of pink sand. Of course collecting this sand is prohibited.
The area of Elafonissi, part of Natura 2000 the European network that protects very sensitive environments & eco-systems, is defined as “Site of Community Importance” for the EU. Unfortunately, not a strong enough title for the local authorities & Travel agencies. With an extremely sensitive biodiversity of plants, flowers, juniper trees, sea turtles & even dolphins, it should be expected to be a very well protected area from massive tourism & human activity. Well, not this time.
It remains without any control of people entering this unique place & no limit of daily visitors. For the local authorities, success comes through a high volume of people, hoping to make some money by renting sun chairs. In a Natura 2000 area, is this legal? All we can say in this case is that we let the wolf become the shepherd.
Huge Cretan Travel agencies are allowed to sell excursions to Elafonissi on a daily basis with no limits. One, two, three or ten busses on the same day or at the same time makes no difference. All are welcome to enjoy for 3 ½ hours the pink sand. If time is not enough, you can take some of it back home. Will there be anyone to stop you? I do not think so. One thing that I would really like to know is how much money all these agencies have paid back after all these years to protect this sensitive ecosystem or to collect the garbage that tourists leave behind. I would really like to know how many people can visit this place every day & if the use of the bushes & juniper trees as a toilette helps them grow faster.
This is the second catastrophic era for Elafonissi, following the first one, which was the fishing with dynamite. Will there be anything left for the future generations? Hard to say. In all the well organized countries of the planet, ecosystems like Elafonissi would be protected by the governmental & local authorities. Some positive actions like; limited & clear number of visitors daily, no parking space inside the Natura 2000 area for busses & cars, a symbolic entrance fee that will be used for the maintenance and cleaning of the area, no visitors during the reproduction period, no fishing or collecting sand, stone, plants etc. are easy to make happen.
By using our Travel Agency Bonnie and Clyde Urban Tours, our website, our blog, our
network, our connections & social media, we create a forward thinking that has as a core the future and long term sustainability. How is it possible in the name of profit, for the big agencies and transfer companies, to accept that the overtourism reality that has been created in Elafonissi, is the one and only? If you have the chance to visit this paradise, during Winter time, I am certain that you’ll change your mind.