- This article was published in “Foni tis Parou” on 1st of February 2021 and was translated in English by us.
- Read the text of the FoPA that started the discussion
- Read the FoPA’s answer to this article
According to information from our newspaper, the tender for the construction of the Paros airport project is expected in a short time.
The project has received all the required approvals from the stakeholders and all the necessary environmental approvals, following the consultation provided for by law.
The main tasks to be performed for the project are:
- construction of a new airport building with a total area of about 12,000 sq.m. of which 8,500 sq.m. intended for the service of passengers and 3,500 sq.m. for auxiliary functions. The building also incorporates the airport control tower, with an area of 160 sq.m.
- extension of the runway by approximately 400 m.
- increase of aircraft parking space by about 4,000 sq.m.
- landscaping of the surrounding area of the building with road construction works, greenery and construction of car parks with a total parking capacity of approximately 650 cars.
- construction of a fire station in a building of a total area of 230 sq.m.
Although much smaller than airports of other corresponding islands (e.g. Mykonos-Kos, etc.), the new airport of the island will improve the provision of services to passengers and eliminate the third world image presented by the existing infrastructure that operates today and discredits the island of Paros worldwide.
Intervention of Kovaios
The mayor of Paros, M. Kovaios, made an important intervention in the consultation initiated by the association “Friends of Paros” on the issue of the airport’s expansion. The intervention of Mr Kovaios is as follows:
«We read with great care the concerns expressed by the “Friends of Paros” regarding the project for the upgrade and expansion of the airport of our island. Respecting the concerns expressed, but with evident scepticism, we note the following:
it is an indisputable fact worldwide that air transports’ development contributes positively to local development. This is achieved by creating new jobs, both during the construction and the airports’ operation and increasing employment in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, boosting the local economy with a positive multiplier effect. This is exactly what is expected to happen in our local economy, with obvious benefits for the locals.
These benefits for the locals also include their access to the mainland and therefore to health care facilities, educational institutions, cultural centres, etc., but also better and easier supplies and trade.
Besides, a modern airport will upgrade Paros as a tourist destination, as it will now provide an improved passenger experience. This, of course, means that the quality of tourism on our island is expected to improve, since fast and comfortable transportation is one of the most important criteria for quality travellers to choose their destination, in contrast to low-budget tourists’ standards.
Τhe environmental footprint, which is greatly improved for aviation in our days, will be smaller than for the existing airport. The new one will accommodate larger aircraft that will carry more visitors, instead of more smaller capacity planes.
Regarding the traffic problem raised by the Friends of Paros, the SVAK study that is being prepared considers the current and projected traffic data to ensure sustainable mobility. And despite the problems that our road network really presents, it continues to be considered and to be one of the best in the Cyclades. However, the municipal authority consults the competent traffic scientists to proceed immediately with any intervention that will be documented to improve the current situation, taking into account the estimated future development.
Regarding the concerns for the water supply and sewerage networks, we consider them unjustified in the light of the works that have been done and continue to be done constantly by the Municipal Water Supply and Sewerage Company of Paros. You can find more by visiting its website.
However, I would like to dwell a little more on the oversimplified conclusion of the Friends of Paros that the expansion of the airport will lead to the attraction of mass tourism, which we believe is not scientifically supported, as in fact, the exact opposite is true.
Having thoroughly studied the subject, I would like to explain why a destination contains all the benefits visitors expect to experience during their stay. People do not just buy tourism products and services, but the expectation of an experience. Therefore, the crucial issue for each destination is the ability to formulate experiences with high-quality features and excellent service. This issue perfectly serves the task of upgrading the airport.
The profile of the traveller in a destination is determined both by the primary offer, i.e. natural and human-made resources and by the secondary tourist offer, which, on our island, does not include hotel units that can accommodate the kind of mass tourism the “Friends of Paros” claim to be afraid of. After all, such units are not foreseen, but they can not be done, as our General Urban Plan protects the island.
In addition to mass tourism, there are other categories of tourism that Paros would like and can attract, such as alternative tourism, itinerant tourism, cultural tourism, senior tourism, and digital nomads.
As a municipal authority, we have chosen to give our island a sustainable character as a destination. We are delighted that the “Friends of Paros” recognizes this, even in their criticism, which we choose to believe is well-intentioned and guided by the good of the island and its inhabitants and not its own interests.
Therefore, the sustainable character can be achieved only by balancing between the environmental, economic and social dimension of the place and the management of all resources in a way that ensures its long-term sustainability. At the heart of our efforts are:
- the optimal use of environmental resources and the preservation of the natural heritage and biodiversity of the island
- respect for authenticity and the protection of unique cultural characteristics and values, in the light of intercultural understanding, but also
- ensuring a competitive and sustainable economy that will provide multiplier benefits, attract quality investments, enhance entrepreneurship and employment, provide income opportunities without discrimination and exclusion.
Only when all three of the above objectives are addressed can we talk about balanced development.
The island’s bearing capacity and the adequacy of its infrastructure, the supportive and institutional framework, the appropriate mix and the high quality of tourism services, a stable administration, and the adequate and properly trained human resources can support tourism development under the conditions developed above.
In these synergies, Paros’ Municipality includes those that it creates with associations such as the “Friends of Paros”, as long as it is proven that in addition to friends of Paros, they are also friends of the Parians. Parians looking forward to upgrading and expanding their airport.
PS: Reading the comments of the “Friends of Paros” in the dialogue that they started for their members, the demand for “a study by foreigners on how the island can be governed” is shocking. We will leave it there; however, we consider this “proposal” as an absolute declaration of intent from some, anything else but “Friends of Paros”.
Intervantion K. Rokonidas
The leader of the “People’s Rally of Paros”, K. Rokonidas, regarding the developments in the issue of the airport, stated to our newspaper:
“An infrastructure of our island with a history of more than forty years on its back. With expectations, dreams, friends, enemies, mistakes in the distant and recent past but also regular moves that kept the goal of realization alive. Interests awaiting its implementation and accelerating developments or others seeking its cancellation, as about 22 years ago.
Over time, our position has been and remains that it is an infrastructure which improves residents commuting to and from the mainland, gives a sense of security, and upgrades visitors’ accessibility to our island, creating conditions for expanding the tourist season.
Of course, a coin always has two sides. An airport with the capacity to service large aircraft and direct flights from abroad also forms new traffic conditions for Paros, whether for visitors to our island or visitors to neighbouring islands.
The road network’s traffic load will undoubtedly be different, and the burden of the existing port infrastructure will be other.
We are not fans of the “unbridled enthusiasm” of the Municipal Authority. We consider that its responsibilities are great for the immobility or the delay of projects and infrastructures which should have already been launched, such as:
- Parikia’s second ring road to bypass the settlement from the volume of vehicles that do not have it as a destination
- acceleration of the construction of a Commercial Port and a new road axis to access it
- implementation of the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan to upgrade the pedestrian and vehicle traffic conditions in Parikia
- improvement of existing traffic junctions (Airport road with Parikia-Aliki provincial road, Pounta-Airport intersection)
- improvement of port facilities so that Paros can meet its servicing role to the surrounding islands and much more
- improvement and expansion of water supply and sewerage networks
- dealing with the increased volume of waste
One thing is for sure.
The risk of degradation of our island does not come from the existence of necessary infrastructure projects but from policies, of the central or the local governments, which enable the environmental devastation in the name of profit and vote-buying transactions, as a result of the frantic commercialization of land.
For so many years Paros did not have and still does not have the airport of the future or the port of many conveniences.
This did not prevent sand dunes from disappearing in the past or in the present, blocking passages to the beaches, clogging the wetlands, building terrible constructions that have nothing to do with our islands’ aesthetics, abusing areas of natural beauty, polluting our seas and so on.
All of this has happened and is happening with the blessing and legislation of governments over time and the support of local officials who have been selling and are selling “protection”.
These are the enemies of our place, and we must fight them.