Greece is considering to place restrictions on the number of cruise ships visiting the country’s most popular islands to cope with the effects of “over-tourism,” prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said recently in an interview with Bloomberg.

“I think we’ll do it next year,” Mitsotakis said, adding that new regulations could either restrict the total number of island berths or introduce a bidding process for slots.

The new restrictions are unlikely to make a major dent in the massive tourist sector, with ships continuing to visit most islands and many cruise vessels home-ported in Piraeus, near Athens, Bloomberg says.

Mitsotakis’s comments also raise questions whether the economic benefits from mega cruise vessels outweigh their environmental impact.

The prime minister highlighted the islands of Santorini and Mykonos, which have become focal points in the debate over the perils of over-tourism, saying they are the ones “that are clearly suffering.”

Santorini saw 800 cruise ship visits in 2023, followed by Mykonos with 749.

“Santorini is the most sensitive, Mykonos will be the second,” Mitsotakis noted.

According to reports, Greece is emerging as the protagonist of the cruise sector in the Eastern Mediterranean for 2023, with an amazing year for the cruise sector in the country, and historic passenger arrivals.

In particular, in 49 Greek ports, the total arrivals of cruise ships amounted to 5,230 and the number of passengers to 7,003,150, which is an additional 450 ship arrivals with 2,373,500 passengers compared to 2022.

Accordingly, on a percentage basis, in 2023 compared to 2022, the country had a 9.41% increase in cruise ship approaches and a 51.26% increase in passenger numbers.

It is worth noting that the previous all-time record for arrivals was set in 2011 with 5,261 cruise ship arrivals and 6,121,360 passengers, and now a new passenger record is being set with an increase of 14.4% since 2011.