Greece has banned obese tourists from riding donkeys after animal rights
campaigners said the creatures were being left with spinal injuries and
6 places around the world that are being ruined by tourism
After images of donkeys climbing the narrow steps of the Greek island of
Santorini laden down by large holidaymakers hit the headlines worldwide,
lawmakers in the country have now pledged to do more to help the
The Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food has published a new set
of regulations regarding donkeys’ well-being after receiving multiple
complaints following media coverage in July.
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Iceland
These state that donkeys giving tourists rides in Santorini should not
carry any loads heavier than 100kg or one fifth of their weight.
Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash
The move comes after animal activists on the island claimed with obesity
on the rise, donkeys were being forced to carry ever-heavier loads while
working long hours, seven days a week without shelter, rest and water –
leaving them with spinal injuries and open wounds from ill-fitting
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in Iceland was featured in a recent Justin Bieber
music video, and made appearances in the most recent seasons of “Game of
Thrones.” The canyon’s cameos in pop culture have made it a popular
travel destination for tourists, but the influx of travelers to the site
has badly damaged it, prompting a visitors ban.
The Environment Agency of Iceland reports that about one million people
have visited the site since Bieber’s video was released in 2015. They
expect even more now that “Game of Thrones” has come to an end, despite
the ban recently implemented by environmentalists, which hasn’t
discouraged visitors from going. According to the AP, visitors have
snuck in overnight.
The government bulletin states: ‘The owners of working equidae should
ensure that the animals’ level of health is high. There should also be
disinfection materials in their living quarters and workstations.
‘Under no circumstances should animals unfit for work be used, i.e., ill
animals, the injured, animals in an advanced pregnancy as well as
animals with poor maintenance of hooves.
‘The animals should be given appropriate and adequate food and fresh
drinking water daily, into containers which cannot be contaminated and
are cleaned at least once a day.
Photo by Federico Beccari on Unsplash
‘Working equines should not be loaded with excessive weight for their
size, age or physical condition. The load cannot exceed the weight of
100kg, or one fifth of their body weight.’
Venice is already known to be sinking, and the masses of tourists that
visit the city every year certainly aren’t helping.
Santorini is known for its hilly terrain and donkeys have traditionally
been used to transport people over the famously stepped areas which
vehicles cannot access, such as in capital Fira.
Locals have complained that tourism, including cruise ships, is
responsible for increased pollution in the city, and the UNESCO World
Heritage Committee is concerned about the impact it has on Venice’s many
In June, charities there claimed the explosion of fat tourists meant
locals who are keen to get the most out of their animals were being
forced to crossbreed the animals to create mules, which are bigger and
taller and can carry heavier loads with more stamina.
Venice has implemented strict rules regarding tourism: littering,
engaging in horseplay, not wearing a shirt in public, leaving love
locks, and writing on or damaging trees or buildings are all fineable
offenses in the city. According to CNN, the city is even limiting the
number of new hotel rooms.
Elisavet Chatzi, 45, a volunteer from Athens who participated in a
peaceful protest in Santorini over donkeys’ treatment there earlier this
year, said: ‘It’s a very big step, I think all our hard work has paid
‘The situation in Santorini has been going on for many years and it
cannot be resolved in one day.
Photo by Jessica To’oto’o on Unsplash
‘We have won our fight because of the international media attention on
the topic. No one could ever believe that new regulations would be set.
Locals in Barcelona aren’t shy about their disdain for tourists. Earlier
this year, a protest against tourism in the city turned violent when
protesters attacked a tour bus and hotel.
‘The next day after the bulletin was released, I was told a tourist had
been carried up the hill by three different donkeys, so as not to
Popular attractions have even changed their rules as a result of tourist
activity. La Boqueria, a large public market, banned tourist groups of
more than 15 people in 2015. Before the ban, large groups of vacationers
often blocked foot traffic while taking photographs, causing disruption
for vendors and regular customers, according toThe Telegraph.
But other campaigners allege that despite the reminder, nothing has
changed on the island and there is still a long way to go.
Maria Skourta, 42, the leader of the Athens branch of Direct Action
Everywhere, claims: ‘We were content with the bulletin because the
purpose of our organisation is to bring matters to light and initiate
Photo by Tom Grimbert on Unsplash
‘But our goal is not to improve the lives of slaves, it’s to free them
Santorini is a beautiful island off the coast of Greece, although it’s
often packed with tourists during the summer.
‘[While this means they will stop carrying obese tourists], the
donkeys are still forced to carry cement, appliances, and all sorts of
In fact, due to the seasonal influx of tourists, the island imposed a
cap on visitors from cruise ships to 8,000 per day. A whopping 790,000
people from 636 cruise ships visited Santorini in 2015, according
toConde Nast Traveler, while the entire island only has a population of
just over 15,000.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Photo by Javier M. on Unsplash
Amsterdam has long been a popular vacation destination for party-loving
travelers, but chief marketing executive of Amsterdam, Frans van der
Avert, toldTravel Weekly, “A lot of smaller historic cities in Europe
are getting destroyed by visitors.”
Vacation rental sites, like Airbnb, have had negative effects on the
city, according to van der Avert, who said that vacation rentals have
taken over the city’s canal district.
In response to a rise in tourism, the city has put restrictions on
Airbnb in place so that a rental listing cannot have more than four
people at a time, and cannot rent apartments for more than 60 days a
Komodo Islands, Indonesia
Komodo Island in Indonesia announced in April that it will close the
island to tourists for a year because of the dwindling Komodo Dragon
population. The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry said it
caught smugglers trying to sell 41 Komodo Dragons on the black market
for $35,000 each.
The island is home to 1,800 Komodo Dragons, which is the largest living
lizard, weighing in at 200 pounds and up to 10 feet long.
During the year of closure, conservationists will monitor the habitat
and ensure that the reptiles have enough food and a healthy natural
environment. The goal is to increase the Komodo Dragon population.