Businesses in Greece fined £290,000 for hogging popular beach space with sunbeds

Tourists sunbathing on a beach in Greece (REUTERS)
Tourists sunbathing on a beach in Greece (REUTERS)

Greek authorities have heavily fined businesses taking up space with expensive sunbeds and parasol shades on some of the country’s most popular beaches.

More than £295,000 worth of fines have been issued in just five days on bars and restaurants illegally covering beaches with tables and sunbeds, according to the Greek government.

Under new regulations introduced in March, deck chairs and umbrellas must be at least four metres from the sea and no rentals are allowed on beaches with less than four metres of sand.

The measures follow protests by locals on the island of Paros, who demonstrated against unrestricted access to the seaside.

Businesses have been criticised for renting out parasols and deckchairs on the beaches for high prices.

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

“Through continuous nationwide inspections and leveraging modern technologies, we’re ensuring legal compliance everywhere.”

Greeks will be able to call authorities to flag any potential violations of the rule.

Drones and satellite tracking have also been used to enforce the regulations.

Authorities acted on more than 1,000 complaints in just five days, with the majority in popular tourist destinations around Athens and Corfu.

An app called MyCoast is also being used to log complaints.

At least three businesses have been shut down by the Government for operating without a licence.

More than 33 million tourists are expected to visit Greece this summer, a rise of five million on the figure the year before.

Last year, the country suffered from devastating wildfires as a heatwave swept across southern Europe. More than 20 people died in the blazes.

Authorities have warned of a high wildfire risk across Greece this week.