A letter regarding the need to immediately revoke the decision of OFYPEKA on the operation of the Samaria Gorge was sent today, Monday, August 21, 2023, by the Deputy Governor of Chania, Mr. Nikos Kalogeris, to the Minister of Environment & Energy, Mr. Theodoros Skylakakis, the Minister of Climate Crisis & Policy Protection Mr. Vassilis Kikilia, the Minister of Tourism Ms. Olga Kefalogiannis and the Natural Environment and Climate Change Organization (OFYPECA).
In his letter, the Deputy Governor specifically mentions the following:
“The Natural Environment and Climate Change Organization in its announcement on August 19, 2023, informs visitors that after the earthquake of August 13 and the aftermath, Drymos will be open to the public again on Tuesday, August 22, 2023. In any case, visitors “… are informed that they assume full and individual responsibility for the possible risks during their entry, passage, stay and exit from the National Park, by declaring, signing and compulsorily presenting at the entrances of the canyon, a relevant responsible statement…”.
We consider this process to be unacceptable, excessive, and abusive and in any case constitutes a futile and bureaucratic attempt to disclaim responsibility, which suggests ignorance both in relation to the management of the Samaria Forest and in general to rural activities. And all this in a country with intense relief and daily almost seismic activity, in which millions of tourists cross, walk, climb and mountaineer.
Based on this decision, we recommend that visitors coming to Crete and Greece sign a responsible declaration that they come here at their own risk. But if we ask for responsible statements that the visitor is to blame if something happens, if we deal with the issues of the countryside with this reasoning, then it is certain that we will lead it to wither and be abandoned, since, among other things, we give the impression to third parties that as irresponsible now, we do not care about upgrading the services provided, nor certainly about improving the health and safety conditions of workers and passers-by, which should be a constant and continuous pursuit of all of us.
Obviously, as long as post-earthquake activity was ongoing, the Samaria Gorge had to remain closed. However, if the post-seismic sequence is completed and the canyon opens again, this cannot happen in the way that OFYPEKA proposes, even if this constitutes an attempt to mobilize the Ministry of Climate Crisis & Civil Protection to assume its responsibility.
We, therefore, call on OFYPEKA and the relevant Ministries to immediately remove this measure of the responsible declaration, which obviously discredits our place and will set a very bad precedent for the management of the canyons, the walking routes, and in general, the whole rural tourism system of the country, which with so much effort and efforts has become one of the most important pillars of the country’s development.