-- Last month's sinking of the Sea Diamond off the coast of
Santorini has not affected tourism here, operators on the island
said, but they are concerned about the environmental threat the
sunken vessel poses.
worried about the pollution," said Chara Abeliotou, a licensed
guide with Santorini's tour guide union. "We expect that people
coming from abroad might think, 'I'm not going to Santorini because
it's not good for swimming' if they don't know the geography of the
island and that all the beaches are on the other side of the island
from where the ship
The Sea Diamond,
a Louis Cruise Lines ship, sank off the coast here on April 6. The
Cyprus-based line has been criticized by environmental groups,
which say the line is dragging its feet on removing the fuel from
contended that it is an extremely difficult process that takes much
testing and careful implementation.
Visible on the
water's surface from the cliffs between Santorini's ports of Fira
and Athinios, a net encircles the sunken ship to catch any viscous
fluid that escapes from it.
The ship sank off
the coast when it collided with volcanic rock while trying to
anchor in Santorini. Authorities are reviewing the ship's black box
to determine what caused the accident in calm and well-charted
waters, on a route with which the ship's captain was
Zachariades, a salesman at a jewelry and art gallery in the town of
Fira, also said he was concerned about the environment. He said that tourists separate
the destination from a rare and isolated incident. "The island has
nothing to do with the incident," he said. "Nobody can say
Santorini is not nice. We are concerned about the environment first
that the local response to the incident was valiant. "We are sea
people," he said. "The local people did the utmost. In four hours
the ship was evacuated. Everybody on small boats went to
A hotelier in
Fira, who chose to remain anonymous because "everybody knows
everybody" on the island, said that while the incident had not
caused any slowdown in tourism, the people of Santorini were upset
that the company was moving slowly to remove the oil from the
"The people of
Santorini are angry," she said. "You can see the fuel in the water,
and the cruise line is not doing anything about it. First they said
two special ships are coming to take the fuel, but they are not
coming. There is pressure from the government and from
[environmental] groups, but not enough."
One tour operator
in Fira said he was surprised at how little interest in the
accident there had been from tourists.
"It's strange. In
a month, no one has mentioned it," he said. "It's not near any
beach. They don't ask about it."
To contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].