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Piles Of Litter Left By Tourists On Zakynthos Navagio Beach

Pile of Garbage at Navagio beach, Zakynthos
Ovetourism ruinin Greek beaches. Credit: Environmental Scientist and Photographer, Michael Bakas

The private company operating the sea route from Porto Vromi Maries volunteered to clean up the famous Navagio Beach in Zakynthos from the piles of litter left behind by tourists, as authorities deny responsibility.

Navagio, or Shipwreck Beach, is among the most popular beaches of Greece and the second most-photographed site in the country even though it is now only accessible by boat following a dangerous rockslide in the summer of 2018.

Located in a secluded cove with turquoise blue waters and surrounded by towering white cliffs, Navagio offers a unique landscape, starring a historic shipwreck just off the famed beach.

Sadly, large volumes of litter are left behind by tourists each day in the summer, sabotaging the beautiful view while the issue is worsened by the lack of provision for regular litter removal in place.

Navagio litter responsibilities

The public discussion that lead to the private cleanup initiative was triggered by a photo of the litter piled up on the beach, shared by environmentalist Michalis Bakas on Facebook.

“I can’t understand how some people pay money to visit one of the world’s most beautiful beaches for a few hours, then leave their litter behind,” he wrote.

The discussion spiraled into a completely different direction than that of visitors’ personal responsibility, as locals commented that the issue was not properly dealt with by authorities either.

It emerged that the municipality has been denying responsibility for litter removal because Navagio is operated by an administrative committee of the Ministry of Tourism, who, they claim, is accountable for the litter.

The Minister of Tourism, Vassilis Kikilias, told media that litter removal is by law the sole responsibility of local authorities. He added, however, that the Ministry will do their best to help municipalities to deal with the task.

While authorities get the litter removal issue straightened out, the staff of Porto Vromi Maries Cruises & Fun have pledged to continue their voluntary cleanup of Navagio Beach themselves on their last route each day. This is not the first time they had to do the cleanup, they told local reporters.

Best beach in the world

Travel site FlightNetwork nominated Navagio Beach as the “Best in the World” in 2018 despite the rockslide that occurred a few months earlier.

Following the incident, the beach was divided into three demarcated zones for safety; one has free access; one has restricted use; and one is completely closed to all visitors.

Navagio Beach was originally known as “Agios Georgios Beach” until October 2, 1980, when the freightliner MV Panagiotis ran aground during stormy weather.

Rumored to have been smuggling contraband, including cigarettes and alcohol, the ship was subsequently abandoned and, today, still rests half-buried in the limestone gravel of the beach, which became known worldwide by the nickname “Navagio” (Greek for “Shipwreck”).

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