MALIA, Crete – Greek authorities are considering setting up special zones for rowdy holidaymakers after the British tourist’s murder last week.
The novel idea will be discussed when mayors of the party resorts of Zakynthos, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes and Kos hold a mini-summit in Athens later this year. Senior officials from the tourism ministry, public order ministry and British embassy are expected to attend.
“As we all face similar problems, we will meet in October to discuss taking further measures to deal with them,” said Zacharias Doxastakis, mayor of the Cretan resort of Malia, where 19-year-old London shop assistant Tyrell Matthews-Burton was fatally stabbed in a brawl with other British holidaymakers last week.
“In our case we are even 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.”
Government officials described the meeting as “imperative” following Matthews-Burton’s murder. “Such incidents give our resorts a bad name and they have to be avoided at all costs,” a tourism ministry official said.
Myles Litchmore-Dunbar, 19, an economics student from London, appeared before an investigating magistrate in Crete on Monday and was ordered to be detained pending trial.
He denies charges of premeditated murder and possession of a weapon, claiming blood stains on his clothes were the result of the victim falling on him as he was pulled from the crowd.
Two other British teenagers charged with inciting the murder gave testimony in Heraklion, the island’s capital, earlier in the day.
This year the British ambassador to Athens, John Kittmer, launched a campaign in Malia aimed at promoting “responsible behaviour”. Posters, wristbands, fliers and beermats distributed in bars and hotels warn of the dangers of recklessness and overdrinking.
“We are saying to young tourists: you can have a good time and enjoy yourselves, while keeping safe and acting responsibly. All of us have to respect local laws and customs,” Kittmer said after visiting the resort again last week.
The idea of creating special zones where young tourists could live takes the drive to rein in bad behaviour a step further. The alcohol-fuelled antics of young holidaymakers have increasingly incensed locals in Malia. Under new urban planning laws currently being discussed, clubs, discos, bars and custom-made quad-bike racecourses would all be hosted in a closely monitored strip away from the town.
“Greece can’t go on being a playground for everyone to live out his or her desire,” Doxastakis told the Guardian. “During the day they are lovely kids but at night when they drink they become other people. In these zones they would be able to do whatever they like … people here are protesting, they want local authorities to take action. They have had enough.”