How Greece is losing its soul to tourism

How Greece is losing its soul to tourism

Paradise lost — Photographer Marinos Tsagkarakis explores his homeland and finds a country struggling to keep its soul.

In 2012, photographer Marinos Tsagkarakis set out to illustrate the effects of the financial crisis on the Greek landscape.

But after repeated visits to places like Crete, Rhodes and Chalkidiki – both during peak-season and off – something else struck him.

The artificiality of the tourism trade had a way of squeezing life out of the natural environment.

“One of the most unexpected things in this project is how radically and violently tourism can transform a place,” he says.Marinos_Tsagkarakis-1
There was something hypnotic about the cycle: overcrowded places would become ghost towns almost overnight; abandoned areas would spring to life again just as quickly.

Yet through it all, the arrival of new hotels, shops and amusement parks never seemed to stop.

Marinos’ style of photography is all about weaving a narrative. Beyond factors like objects, composition and sequence, he searches for meaningful images that examine a specific issue within a tight body of work.Marinos_Tsagkarakis-2
The intention behind Paradise Inn is to get people talking about the changing face of Greece.

“You can feel the negative energy everywhere,” he says. “From small shops to entire neighbourhoods and even areas that were, until recently, bustling with life, the financial crisis has drastically affected every corner of Greek society.

“The country has become saturated with structures, spaces and landscapes which no longer hold any life, identity or soul.”Marinos_Tsagkarakis-3
It’s not that all touristic development is disastrous, Marinos adds – he recognises the importance of the sector for local economies and communities.

But the problem begins when the land is transformed into a product and starts to lose its character.

“For me, the ‘real’ Greece means civilisation, arts, freedom, hospitality and happiness,” he says.Marinos 007
“Most of all, it’s a place where people respect and support each other without discrimination – just like what’s been happening with the refugee crisis.”

Marinos believes the only way to keep those values intact is for all involved – from residents to business owners – to develop a greater sense of responsibility for the environment they live in, the heritage they’ve inherited and the identity they want to endure.Marinos 005
Paradise Inn is a tribute to all the lost paradises where millions of ordinary people – just like me and you – have managed to impose themselves,” he says.

“It can impair our quality of life, it can lead to the loss of natural space, and it can happen anywhere.”Marinos_Tsagkarakis-11Marinos_Tsagkarakis-9Marinos 004Marinos_Tsagkarakis-26
Check out the Paradise Inn project in full on Marinos Tsagkarakis’ website.

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