San Giacomo: Lack of regulations is leading to an ΄overtourism΄ situation on Corfu Town roads
CORFU. Local authorities have consistently proved incapable of carrying out traffic studies.
San Giacomo Cultural Association has issued a statement in which it says, amongst other things, that in the meantime, traffic has become worse over the last few years with an increase in the number of tourist buses and trains.
The ongoing dispute between the Association of Private Tourist Bus Owners and the open-top tour buses companies is clearly a matter that cannot be resolved just through the conflict between the two groups.
As residents of Corfu Town we are familiar with and have to live with the major traffic problem in our everyday lives.
During the tourist season we have to suffer the exhausting ordeal of traffic congestion on a 24-hour basis with the continuous problem - often unsolved - of finding a space to park. Our difficulties increase when on numerous occasions we just give up the idea of being able to go anywhere - even when it is a matter of urgency.
Beyond the professional dispute, the situation with urban and rural transport is something that above all concerns the tens of thousands of residents and visitors who suffer on the town's roads. It is clear that local authorities have consistently proved incapable of carrying out some kind of traffic study or work to resolve this long-term problem of congestion.
On the contrary, the problem has worsened over recent years for other reasons which need to be examined and taken into account - the addition of over 20 (!!!) more open-top tour buses and 2 tourist trains.
These large means of transport are using the main streets and locations in the town, travelling at a slow speed so that passengers can take in the sights and making frequent stops - thus obstructing a smooth flow of traffic and creating annoyance and frustration. A phenomenon associated with Overtourism where there is no need for it to exist.
According to the World Tourism Organisation, the carrying capacity of a destination is determined by a series of parameters including the impact of tourism on the local community and how much the infrastructure can bear - in this case, how much the urban road network can bear. Were the relevant Ministries aware of the existing conditions when they awarded the licences? San Giacomo Cultural Association, an association of residents in the area around the Old Town Hall Square, passionately supports the idea of sustainable and balanced development in the town, without having utopian illusions.
With regard to the town's 'ills', we believe that all those involved are responsible: politicians, organisations, professionals, businesses and residents without exception.
The Association does not wish just to apportion blame and especially not on the tourist professionals who are carrying the burden of the local economy. However, recognising and sharing the concerns of the tourist industry in the recent negative circumstances, we believe that these circumstances highlight the need for local tourist development planning to have proper foundations and sustainable solutions.
Lack of regulatory framework
It is a fact that a number of business activities, especially in the old town, defiantly ignore the rules of social co-existence and the values of cultural tradition.
Exploiting the lack of an applicable regulatory framework - neglecting and/or misappropriating public space, causing noise pollution, with an appalling sense of aesthetics and unfair competition - they have managed to damage the functionality and image of the town and cause serious hardships in the lives of residents. It must be said, though, that the majority of businesses operate in a harmonious way in the town and with residents.
Why doesn't someone do something?
As regards the ongoing traffic problem and the serious impact of the introduction of these large vehicles on the roads, we don't believe that we are exaggerating. Our view takes into account the almost universal frustrated reaction of residents - which always ends up with the question: "Why doesn't anyone say something? Why doesn't someone do something?"
For this reason, our Association is addressing the new local authority first of all and the Central Administration and requesting that they give proper attention to this burning issue that directly affects our everyday life.