There are so many potential strands to dissect from this story in the International Herald Tribune about Greece’s latest plans to (literally, it seems) cement its tourism industry’s future – which employs one in five workers – but this extract provides a snap summary…

The government’s “land zoning” plan foresees the creation of luxury tourism complexes, including holiday homes for long-term lease or sale as well as golf courses and spas. Two such complexes, on Crete and in the western Peloponnese, are already in the works. The environment and public works minister, Giorgos Souflias, who presented the plan this month, envisions “one million Europeans interested in acquiring a second residence in Greece.” But there has been a mixed reception for the plan, which offers incentives for construction in less developed areas and allows building up to 50 meters, or 165 feet, from the coastline, in areas protected by the EU program Natura and on uninhabited islets…The Technical Chamber of Greece, an association of civil engineers, has condemned the plan, and environmental and conservation groups have warned against coastal “concretization” that has marred the Spanish coast. They also object to the creation of water-guzzling golf courses when much of Greece is on red alert for drought this summer. “The authorities are desperate to sell off prime pieces of coastal land for hotels,” said Nikos Charalambides, executive director of Greenpeace Greece. “This might bring in short-term financial gains, but in the long-term it will downgrade these areas, as we have seen in Spain.” But Palli-Petralia, the tourism minister, dismisses such fears. “We are not going to turn Greece into Spain,” she said at a news conference this month. “The destruction of our environment will finish us off as a tourist destination.”

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