Starting in spring 2024, Greece will implement a new system to regulate organized beaches and ensure public access. According to the new law, at least 50% of the beach area will need to remain accessible to the public.
New beach laws in Greece to come into effect spring 2024
The Ministry of National Economy & Finance has introduced a new framework to regulate beaches and coastal public property in Greece.
The new system aims to ensure public access and control organized beaches. The area granted to concessions can no longer exceed 50% of the total beach area. The percentage drops further for designated Natura 2000 areas.
The new system aims to address the issue of private occupation of public beaches. The Greek Constitution recognizes the country’s shoreline as a public good, ensuring citizens’ unrestricted access at any time.
Notably, the new law emphasizes aspects like beach cleaning, service provision, facility access, and lifeguard presence. Here are the key points.
Online tenders for beach concessions
Introducing online tenders for beach concessions, the government has initiated the e-Auctions platform. The new system will enhance transparency, expedite processes, and establish standardized concession contracts.
Concession contracts will be standardized, outlining the exact granted area, the contractor’s responsibilities, lease duration and lease amount.
Successful applicants will receive a temporary license to run a seasonal beach business in the granted area. This includes the installation of umbrellas and sunbeds. The duration of each licensing contract will be up to 3 years.
Beaches in Greece to be designated as “highly protected”
Under the new legislation, certain beaches in Greece will be classified as “highly protected”. Typically, these are beaches located in Natura areas.
In order for a beach to be included in the “highly protected” category, it will need to meet certain criteria. For example, it needs to be a protected habitat, home to rare species of flora and fauna, or be designated as a key biodiversity area.
Business activities, including the placement of umbrellas and sunbeds, are strictly prohibited on these designated beaches.
I can imagine that the amazing Saria island will fit right in this category!
Free access to beaches in Greece
The new law introduces constraints on beach concessions, limiting the contracted area to a maximum of 500 sq.m. or no more than 50% of the total beach area. For instance, if a beach spans 10,000 sq.m., a minimum of 5,000 sq.m. must remain unoccupied.
Regarding facilities like umbrellas and sunbeds, they can cover up to 60% of the granted area, which decreases to 30% in Natura areas.
Concessionaires are obligated to fulfill various responsibilities, including regular beach cleaning, installation of sanitation infrastructure. In addition, they will need to remove their equipment at the conclusion of both the summer season and the concession contract.
Modern technology to be used for controls
To monitor compliance with the recent laws, the government will implement two new tools.
An upcoming digital app will enable citizens to directly report violations, such as trespassing of public spaces, poor cleanliness or inadequate service facilities.
Drones and satellite imagery will supplement these efforts, with a focus on promoting adherence rather than punishment. Concessionaires found in violation will face fines and additional penalties.
In-person inspections by various government officials will also be conducted.
Fines and penalties for offenders
Fines and penalties for offenders are as follows:
Illegally establishing a beach business without a concession contract incurs a fine equal to four times the minimum lease price for the region, which is automatically calculated by the system.
If a business exceeds the boundaries of the granted area under a concession agreement, a fine equivalent to four times the monthly lease price will be imposed.
In both instances, any illegally placed equipment must be removed within 48 hours. If there was no concession agreement or if the boundary violation was severe, the business will be promptly closed and sealed within 24 hours. Offenders will be ineligible for future tenders.
Continued operation of a sealed business leads to imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine, for anyone found within the sealed area.
As per the recent legislation, concessionaires are obligated to fulfill the following responsibilities at a minimum:
a) Guarantee unhindered and safe public passage on the beach and foreshore, prioritizing the needs of individuals with mobility challenges.
b) Restrict the occupation of the granted area by umbrellas, deckchairs, and recreational equipment to a maximum of 60% (30% for Natura areas). Maintain a four-meter-wide free zone from the coastline.
c) Keep the beach area clean at all times.
d) Display a conspicuous sign detailing concession information, including public and concessionaire rights and obligations, with a unique QR code for each concession.
e) Install non-permanent facilities such as showers and changing rooms for public use.
f) Preserve the ecological balance of the granted area.
g) Ensure the presence of a lifeguard and the installation of sea tracks, unless these obligations are covered by the relevant municipality.
h) Remove the mobile equipment at the end of each season, as well as at the end of the concession, and restore the beach to its original state.
Additional obligations for concessionaires may apply depending on the specific beach.
Existing businesses that are adjacent to beaches
Establishments in proximity to beaches, like hotels or tavernas, have the option to request a beach concession.
To facilitate public access, a mandatory 6-meter-wide free zone between concessions is mandatory.
The regulation enforcing a minimum of 50% free beach area also applies to these instances.
Beaches in Greece
If you have enjoyed reading this article, I guess you want to know more about beaches in Greece.
And it’s not that the mainland lacks nice beaches – I love the Peloponnese, especially the areas around Gythio and Mani.
I’d love to know your opinion on the new laws, so feel free to leave a comment below! And, if you can read Greek, you can have a look a this comprehensive article for more info.
Hi! I’m Vanessa from Athens. I’ve been to over 60 of the Greek islands – or maybe 65? I love free, wild beaches where there are no facilities, no loungers, no unbrellas, and – ideally – not too many people. I really hope the new law in Greece is properly implemented, as some islands are way too full of loungers and umbrellas. Follow my FB page for more inspiration and news about Greece.