An estimated 32 million tourists will visit Greece this year — An estimated 32 million visitors are expected to descend upon Greece this year – the most in recorded history.

While the tourism numbers are extraordinary and said to be helping the economy recover, it’s taking its toll on the environment.

“We can’t keep having more and more tourists,” environmentalist Nikos Chrysogelos told the Guardian. 

Over the past three years, tourist numbers to Greece have increased by six million with arrivals from China alone doubling since 2017.

Last year, Santorini saw two million visitors arrive – 130 times its 15,000 local population – and the mayor was forced to limit the amount of cruise ship passengers disembarking to 8,000 per day.

Santorini’s mayor, Nikos Zorzos said: “It’s a radical rise and we are forever playing catch-up.

“We have built numerous desalination plants and are in the process of erecting the biggest one in Greece, but in five years’ time I worry even that won’t be enough.”

The Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) says travelling to Greece out of season should be encouraged to help protect Greece’s environment.

They also advise to venture beyond the tourist-heavy islands like Crete, Mykonos and Santorini and look for some quieter alternatives like Sifnos, Koufonissia and Milos.