Earlier in the month we were all horrified at the situation on the beaches here in Rhodes. We wanted to know why the umbrellas were missing. All the concessions were still waiting for their annual licences. Licences that are handed out at auctions each year. Each year families risk losing their livelihoods.
Our friend Tsambika was lucky and her family got their license to trade again this year. The umbrellas are back on the beach and the kantina is open.
Tsambika is still smiling, though the season has been cut cruelly short by the incompetent bureaucrats, at least now the family can earn a living.
Others on the island were not so lucky. The same family have been on the beach at Agia Marina for 22 years. Just like Tsambika they had a small taverna and sunbeds. When they first started there the beach was a mess, they cleaned it up, planted the trees and built the planters. They built up a rapport with the visitors who return each year. They built the walls, put in tables, put up shade and even built the toilet block.
This year they cleaned the beach and got ready for the season. They were kept waiting by the bureaucrats who were incapable of doing their jobs and holding the auctions before the start of the season.
Then on June 10th they lost their concession to someone with more money on the day. The person who won the concession sent a representative from off the island to act on their behalf.
There was an outpouring of sympathy for the family on facebook. But that won’t pay the bills. Times are very hard and in the middle of the worst financial crisis in Europe they have lost everything.
It is utter madness that each year families have to go through this. Where else in the world would you have to go to action to continue to run a business on an annual basis. These small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy.
The Greek government needs to find a way to help small businesses instead of crippling them. Unfortunately I can’t see that happening, because the man who won the concession on Agia Marina beach is rumoured to be a relative of the mayor.
I’ve also heard about problems on the west coast of the island where a Russian with money has teamed up with a local trouble maker to outbid the families there.
I don’t know if this happens across the country or just in Rhodes? Or how many families have lost everything this year? My heart goes out to them all.