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Sven Graefe

Decisions, decisions

I have been following Anna's excellent blog relating the recent events on the islands with great interest. As an expatriate resident (German national/UK resident), currently renovating an old village house on the island, many things (such as the windmills) concern me directly. I have been struck by several aspects of the recent discussions. From the outset I would like to support Anna’s views and those of others who have expressed their concern over the possible construction of a massive windfarm on the island.

Everyone appreciates Kythira’s particular attraction and many are in interested in preserving the island`s history. This great website is testimony to that. Unfortunately, there is less consensus concerning the island's future. A lot of people are out to make a quick buck. At the moment there is a building boom, everywhere you see the same concrete studio appartments cropping up. Kythira is unusual in the sense that it is unspoilt and traditional. If development is not given a direction, the island will look like any other Greek island in ten years time and a unique opportunity will be lost. At the moment Kythira's tourist potential is defined by the absence of development but "unspoilt" is not something that can be taken for granted.

In Europe there is a big demand for ecological holidays and getting back to nature. Kythira could advertise itself for walking holidays, birdwatching etc. One Greek island in the Dodecanese has banned hunting, the bird population has increased and the island has a lot of bookings in the off season. In Kythira the tourist season is fairly short. Instead of building ever more studios it would make sense to fill the existing accommodation for longer. Kythira needs "branding" in marketing terms, i.e. it needs to stand for something in today's sophisticated tourism market. It also needs investment in infrastructure like hiking trails, sewage plants etc. One idea to secure upmarket tourism could also be a golf course, maybe somewhere in the middle of the island where there is space. I don't play golf (before you ask!), but many affluent tourists do. Kythira could cater to a niche market. I think the windmill controversy may have its benefits in that it galvanises public opinion into thinking about the future and the importance of giving development a direction. If we don't make decisions, they will be made for us. 60 windmills and a thriving tourism industry don't go together in my opinion. On the other hand 3 or 4 windmills for local energy needs may actually enhance the island's reputation for sustainable tourism. I hope I have not been too preachy and for those who are interested, here is a link on youtube of a windmill going horribly wrong in Denmark:

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