Με το Φαληράκι μας ασχολήθηκε η σοβαρή και δημοφιλής αγγλική εφημερίδα The Guardian στην Κυριακάτική της έκδοση. Το κείμενο είναι στην Αγγλική, αλλά λόγω έλλειψης χρόνου, η μετάφρασή του θα δημοσιεύτει αργότερα.
In the seaside resort of Faliraki it is a good year for Mayor Ioannis Iatrides. 'Mercifully our clientele this summer is a wonderful mix of people from all over Europe who know how to peacefully enjoy their time in the sun,' he enthuses. 'There are far fewer Britons, which means no rapes, no accidents, no drunken debauchery, no going on the rampage. I'm so relieved.'
But Iatrides's cause for cheer is someone else's headache. While Faliraki might be shaking off its notoriety as a 'modern-day Sodom', young Britons are still flocking to its neighbours in search of sun, sex and a hedonistic nightlife. Sometimes the result has been rape or even death, leaving bewildered Greeks to ask: what is wrong with the British?
In Malia on Crete, for example, the tourist season may barely have begun, but already a seemingly non-stop stream of Britons, many in their teens and most on their first trip abroad, have passed through the local courts. Evangelos Rossakis, the owner of a local supermarket, was last night recovering at home after being attacked by six British youths who had beaten him 'black and blue' because he had dared to ask them to drive less recklessly on quad bikes through the resort. Rossakis says his injuries are nothing next to the damage the teenagers later inflicted on his shop - or the time when a Briton bit off the nose of a bartender who asked him to leave.
Malia hasn't reported a sexual assault yet. But in Cavos, on Corfu, last week four Northern Irishmen were charged with gang-raping an English tourist, an act they allegedly filmed on their phones.
Meanwhile in Laganas, on Zakynthos, 17-year-old Matthew Cryer, from Sheffield, appears to have drunk himself to death last week; the previous week 15 English tourists were charged with 'lewd behaviour' after participating in an open-air oral sex contest.
'What is wrong with the British?' asked Yiannis Kyriakakis, a senior police officer on Crete. 'Why can't you have fun calmly? We try to be tolerant - after all, these are only kids, but we find ourselves asking why.'
Once it was Faliraki that seemed doomed as the capital of Brits behaving badly. A sleepy fishing village on the island of Rhodes, it had the misfortune in 2002 to be featured in the ITV series Club Reps, which followed the antics of holidaymakers travelling to the resort with tour operator Club 18-30. Viewers witnessed an orgy of binge-drinking, fighting, vomiting and casual sex.
The following summer, doubtless partly spurred by its TV infamy, tens of thousands descended on Faliraki, leading to dozens of arrests. Something had to be done and the Faliraki police sought advice from their counterparts in Blackpool, drawing on their experience in dealing with stag parties. A new police station opened in the centre of town staffed by 12 English-speaking officers who exercised a zero-tolerance crackdown on misbehaviour. As a result, Faliraki moved upmarket and appealed to families - but its problems merely seem to have been displaced elsewhere.
About three million Britons visit Greece every year, more than from any other country. Last summer, in a single week, there were three deaths, three cases of serious injury, three alleged rapes and nine arrests of UK citizens in 'anything goes' Laganas. Successive Greek governments have tried to improve the quality of its 'tourism product'. But they seem unable to halt the transformation of many resorts into nests of binge-drinking.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is concerned, too. This month it launched its first anti-rape campaign in Greece, following an alarming rise in sexual assaults on British women. Most victims claimed that the perpetrators were fellow UK holidaymakers. Simon Gass, the UK ambassador to Athens, said: 'Each year we see a disproportionate number of young people who get involved in arrests and sometimes even fatal accidents. We want to do more than just pick up the pieces when things go wrong and that's why we're launching this campaign to try to encourage young people to have fun on holiday but also to know their limits.' Thousands of advice-bearing posters, postcards, beermats and leaflets have been distributed at resorts popular with young Britons.
For officials such as Iatrides of Faliraki, the drive is a positive thing. 'I'm all for it,' said the mayor, who in past years has been forced to request help from British undercover policemen to patrol the streets. 'But you know these English kids will have to change character first.'
In Malia, where the locals staged protest marches against their British visitors last year, people are not hoping for quieter times. They are praying.
The size of the problem
15 million The number of people who visit Greece each year
1,000 Britons who required hospital treatment in Greece in 2006
39 Reported rape cases last year in Greece
6,000 Bottle stoppers imported into Greece this year. They are used to prevent drinks being spiked with date rape drugs
44 The number of rapes reported by British holidaymakers between 1994 and 2002. One third of British women who are raped overseas are raped in Greece
3 million British people who visit Greece each year
500 The number of cases involving passports lost or stolen by British nationals in Greece last year
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