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Death in Crete: Greek islands consider segregated tourist zones

By Simon Busch
July 31, 2013 -- Updated 1547 GMT (2347 HKT)
The bar on the Greek island of Crete where a young British tourist was stabbed to death last week.
The bar on the Greek island of Crete where a young British tourist was stabbed to death last week.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Stabbing of British teen spurs resort's plans for tourist 'ghetto'
  • Other Greek islands also to consider proposal
  • Greece long considered hedonistic paradise for British travelers
  • Now some Greeks have apparently had enough

(CNN) -- Brits abroad might sometimes garner a reputation on a par with "ugly Americans," yet they rarely elicit a reaction as strong as one coming out of Greece this week.

Following the killing of a young British tourist on Crete last week, the Greek island is considering setting up segregated nightlife zones for tourists -- and other tourist hot spots in the country may follow suit.

Tyrell Matthews-Burton, a 19-year-old Londoner, was stabbed in a brawl outside a bar in the Cretan resort of Malia on July 23 while celebrating his birthday.

The death comes in the wake of news that three British women have reportedly been raped in Malia in the past week.

Debauched

Young British tourists, often abroad for the first time, form the bulk of visitors to Malia, as they do to resorts notorious for debauched behavior on other Greek islands.

Closely followed by Germans, Britons outnumber any other nationality visiting Greece.

Matthews-Burton's death has lent impetus to Malia's consideration of plans to establish tourist "ghettos" in a strip outside the town, following increasing complaints from islanders.

New planning laws would allow clubs, bars and quad-bike racecourses to be established in a closely monitored enclave away from the town center, the Guardian reports.

"We are considering ... setting up special zones outside the town ... for young visitors who insist on behaving like this and locals who want to go on hosting them," said Zacharias Doxastakis, mayor of the town Matt Barrett, author of one of the most popular online Greek travel guides, Greecetravel.com, says has become like the Bahamas "with moussaka."

Island summit

Malia's plan is attracting interest from other Greek islands flooded by pleasure-seeking tourists in the summer high season.

The mayors of Zakynthos, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes and Kos are to hold a mini-summit in Athens later this year, where the issue of riotous tourists will be discussed.

"As we all face similar problems, we will meet in October to discuss taking further measures to deal with them," Doxastakis said.

Greece faces a dilemma in implementing measures such as Malia's proposed tourist zone, which would in effect punish some travelers to the country.

With its sunny weather, beautiful beaches and widely appealing cuisine, Greece -- especially its thousands of islands -- has long presented a paradise to tourists from colder, grayer northern European climes.

Package tours

With the explosion of package tourism in the 1960s and 1970s, Greece became accessible to young people who previously wouldn't have been able to afford foreign travel.

Tourism some time ago surpassed shipping as the country's largest industry and is responsible for 20% of its income.

The Greek economic crisis makes imposing sanctions upon tourists difficult, but the country's dependence on the industry has long had a flip side.

Escaping home has often meant escaping its moral restraints, especially for young, relatively inexperienced travelers.

Increasingly popular all-inclusive holiday packages, including free drinks, in many Greek resorts exacerbate the tendency to wildly licentious behavior -- "Brits being bad abroad," in shorthand.

"Tour operators [and] commission-seeking reps" even encourage such behavior on Crete and other islands, according to the Observer.

However, it seems that, despite the money, some Greeks have had enough.

"Greece can't go on being a playground for everyone to live out his or her desire," Doxastakis told the Guardian.

Will it work?

Would Malia's plan for a tourist "ghetto" work?

The island needs "to train their police to deal with all possible situations," Matt Barrett tells CNN, "plus hold individual clubs accountable for the behavior of their patrons.

"Sending young people off to some party ghetto where they can do whatever they want is not going to make them behave responsibly. It just sends the message that anything goes in these areas."

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