As I watch the sun sets on horizon sinking slowly into the endless blue my thoughts are occupied with the coming summer season and the changes that it might bring.
Last year Paros’s new airport opened its gates, and with that came a much-needed boost of visitors to the island that was welcomed by most, if not everybody. Many Parians feared that cheaper, bigger and more frequent flights will bring a flock of the “loud and unruly” but instead, in my experience, it brought more of the same visitors, the ones that appreciate the natural beauty and the relaxation Paros has to offer.
Young couples, from all over the world, the new hip backpackers, travel nomads as they call themselves, taking pride in discovering less visited places and sharing their experiences with a wide audience of fellow bloggers and amateur photographers. Families, suddenly discovering that there is more to Greece than package tourism on Crete and on Rhodes, taking the plunge into the unknown of getting their holiday organized by themselves lured by the easy access and cheap(er) ticket prices to the island.
And last but not least the adventure seekers of different water sports -kitesurfers, surfers, sailors of all kinds- returning and spreading the word, not just about the wonderful winds but the growing number of sports amenities and groups of sports enthusiasts forming a very real and welcoming athletic community on the island. This is a good sign. It’s a sign that Paros is slowly finding it’s identity among the more popular Cycladic islands, like Santorini, “the epitome of Cycladic beauty and history”, Mykonos, “the craziest party of your life” or Tinos “the island of religious pilgrimage” as it may not be so well known by foreigners but definitely by Greeks.
Paros slowly is building up a reputation for being a “relaxed, family orientated watersports island”. New projects like the two new marinas to be built in Alyki and in Ambelas that will make possible for more yachts to come to shore, the Environmental park of Paros or the Aqua Paros waterpark are helping to achieve this status. No doubt there is much more to be done, one could say, that bicycle lane all around the island would be a logical developmental project for an island wanting to aspire for family and sports-friendly status. Or the simple constructions of pavements, so crucial to safety and much needed by locals and tourists alike. I am sure we all could write a list of what needed to be done, but one thing is certain: Paros is on a good road. With its newly found identity, the island is attracting visitors who are going to be not a burden but an asset to the local life and community.