Shop owners and shop keepers in Hersonissos, who cater to tourism business and who continually observe the laws and regulations, have denounced those other business owners who flaunt those regulations and demanded that they be closed down.
The operation of many shops without proper license, the non-controlled open-air bars, and the “directing” by tourism offices so that tourists eat in specific restaurants or party in certain establishments which pay some hefty commissions, are just some of the problems that face the legitimate members of the Association of Shop & Property Owners.
There are many legal establishments which, due to these conditions of lawless competition, are now experiencing survival problems. And, as Association members point out, even though these specific problems have been going on for many years, no appropriate agency has taken action to date.
“We especially denounce the non-sensitivity of those responsible to deal with these problems,” reported Association president, Ilias Ambatzis. “With sorrow we observe each year that the related agencies pretend to know nothing of the problems, and act as if no such complaints have come across their desks . . . resulting in the area’s serious problems to perpetuate.”
The establishments, working without a license, function high handedly and many contribute to noise pollution, or violate the legal working hours, and openly create third world conditions in the area, according to reports filed by legal enterprises. These reports also point out that most of the violators don’t have licenses, since their businesses don’t fulfill the necessary requirements to obtain one. Also, since they don’t have licenses in the first place, it stands to reason that the services they provide are questionable. Therefore, members report, the entire area is experiencing a lowering of standards because these “outlaw” businesses are not subject to any control. After all, you can’t revoke a license if a license doesn’t exist in the first place, the reports point out.
There is one specific practice which tires the tourists, hurts free enterprise and lowers our country’s overall picture, according to the Association. That is the practice of “directed dining and entertainment,” which is done by “tour guides” who are heavily rewarded. These so-called “tour guides” are illegally hired by tour agencies and do not have a license for their profession, and many times are illegal aliens. Tourists are often forced to dine or drink in specific restaurants or pubs where these “guides” take them places that pay hefty commissions to all the people involved in this scheme of illegal “busing” of tourists.
The Shop Owners Association’s report explains in detail how this illegal “busing” is referred to as a “pub crawl,” which is nothing more than large groups of 100 to 300 people, usually of a young age, which, under the direction of these illegal “tour guides,” move around during all hours of the night, going from bar to bar. Because of the atmosphere created and large amount of alcohol consumed, and the mentality of the people involved, these “pub crawls” usually result in fights and inflicting much destruction many times involving nearby legal establishments and innocent passersby.
As far as the subject of “directed dining and entertainment” is concerned, it is common knowledge, the reports state, that the practice benefits both the tour operators as well as the “tour guides,” with each receiving huge and mostly un-taxed monetary rewards ( a lot of loot!!!). In fact, the Association reported, last year just in Hersonissos alone the “tour guides” received 1 euro per person from each bar visited by the “pub crawl” groups.
* Reprinted from Nea Kriti. Translated by Sophia Klidi