Everything about Santorini, an island located in the southern Aegean Sea, is mesmerizing.
Even before you get there, it is impossible not to be amazed by the sight of turquoise water or the fact that the entire island is a mere byproduct of an ancient eruption of a cataclysmic scale.
High on the island, the main villages of Oia and Fira look like something taken out straight from a fantasy book with white Cycladic houses at the cliff tops.
As the sun disappears below the horizon, people celebrate the beauty by cheerfully applauding nature. Santorini is a playground for the rich sprinkled with superb restaurants and stellar wineries during peak season.
Thanks to its origin, the terrain in Santorini is full of the rocky hill climb. Visitors rely on donkeys to tackle the challenging route to get to the top villages.
As powerful as donkeys are, taking someone on their back through steep climbs back and forth all day, every day is no easy feat.
The Greek government has banned obese visitors from riding donkeys out of health and safety concerns for the animals.
10 /10 Unprecedented Initiative
Before the ban, donkeys were forced to bear the brunt of obese visitors in Santorini. In early 2018, activists in collaboration with the tourism industry in Greece began to take severe actions in defense of the donkeys.
After several months of campaigning, the government enforced an unprecedented initiative to implement weight restrictions on human cargo in Santorini.
Representatives of the cruise liner association were also supportive of the industry. According to the Mayor of Santorini, Nikolaos Zorzos, they promised to raise awareness of the issue.
9 /10 Cruel Treatment
In 2018, an online petition demanding the stop to unfair treatment toward equines was signed by 108,000 people. It considered the use of horses as a means of transportation on Santorini “unnecessary torture.”
Reports of abuse and neglect and images of overweight tourists riding the animals on social media sparked international outrage.
The resulting regulation does not mention holidaymakers, but some regard the initiative as a ban to prevent owners from earning a living.
There will indeed impact the locals’ economy, but in the long run, the regulation is better for everyone.