Touring Greece through the eyes of its locals

Kortney Fethkenher, News Writer

Growing up, Anastasios Daktylidis spent his summer vacations seemingly typical. His days were spent with his family soaking up the hot sun on a beach next to the sea.  

However, these summer days were not necessarily a vacation. Daktylidis grew up on the Greek island of Mykonos, a popular summer tourist destination, where he helped his parents run their hotel and resort on Paradise Beach starting at the age of 13 years old. Daktylidis can only recall going on vacations during the winter months as the summer months were spent working in Mykonos.  

From the earliest Daktylidis can remember, the number of tourists on Mykonos has only increased each year, apart from the year 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mykonos, like the rest of Greece, is known around the world as a popular tourist destination. The country of Greece relies heavily on tourism, with 20% of the country’s GDP coming from the tourism industry, according to DW News.  

This brings up the question of how this affects the locals and how they view tourism while living in a country where tourism is so prevalent. 

Mykonos is an island consisting of 10,000 locals. According to, international tourist arrivals to the island reached 474,081 in 2019. Mykonos is becoming increasingly popular as a luxury island with sandy beaches and a vibrant night life. 

“From the moment you step on the island, you can feel the energy,” Daktylidis said. 

Daktylidis is very proud to be Greek and from Mykonos as it becomes rarer to be a local on the island. 

“What you are going to hear from all the locals is that we are losing our identity as a place, and it’s not what it used to be, and it’s never going to be like this again,” Daktylidis said. “As I remembered Mykonos in 2014 and 2015, it was better than now, more enjoyable.”  

A common problem with any tourism destination is having the infrastructure and amenities to accommodate a large number of people. 

On Mykonos, there is no hospital, only a medical center and one ambulance for the whole island. There are roughly only 30 taxis on the island as well.  

This is because the government looks at the number of locals when deciding what amenities are needed and does not take into consideration the number of tourists, Daktylidis said. According to Daktylidis, most clubs train their employees in case of an emergency. 

Even with the changes on the island over the years, Daktylidis loves Mykonos, and he loves getting to meet people from all over the world. 

“We love Americans, usually they are the ones that get the party started, they include everyone and they tip well,” Daktylidis said. 

Growing up and working in the tourism and hospitality industry has inspired Daktylidis to study international tourism and hospitality management at The American College of Greece and eventually take over his family’s business someday.  

Like Daktylidis, Georgios Martinis, a student at The American College of Greece, grew up on the Greek island of Rhodes. 

Martinis spent his summers helping his father run their hotel in Rhodes, Nautica Blue. Martinis is also studying international tourism and hospitality management and hopes to take over his father’s business.  

Martinis said his father’s work influenced his desired career path, but he also has an interest in and passion for his field of study.  

“The best part, I believe, is getting to meet foreign people and talking with them,” Martinis said.  “There are also some negatives, like for example, you cannot be calm there as there are always crowds.” 

There are many parts of Rhodes where tourists are typically drunk, which makes it hard to live in those areas, according to Martinis.  

When asked what he is most proud of coming from Rhodes, Martinis said it’s the many cultures Rhodes encompasses. For example, Rhodes has a strong Italian influence due to its history of being under Italian occupation, Martinis said. Rhodes is also geographically located close to Turkey. 

Another Greek island, Corfu, is also known for its multicultural population. Aliki Pitsinigkou, a native of Corfu, said she loves the history and the many nationalities which make the island what it is.  

“I am thankful to have grown up in Corfu to experience other cultures,” Pitsinigkou said. 

Living in Corfu has inspired Pitsinigkou’s dream, which is to create sociocultural performances and travel around the world. Unlike Daktylidis and Martinis, Pitsinigkou studies theater arts and minors in music performance and English and American literature.  

Like with any tourist destination, there are negative consequences. Pitsinigkou recalls one instance where a taxi driver would not give her a ride home because she was Greek. This is because some taxi drivers raise their prices for foreign customers because they do not know what the price for a taxi should be. Therefore, he did not want to give Pitsinigkou a ride as he knew she would pay less than a tourist.  

“The cost of living and everything goes up when living in a tourist destination,” Pitsinigkou said. “On the other hand, it helps people survive and it holds the city accountable to keeping Corfu clean.” 

Like the tourists who visit Corfu, Pitsinigkou has fond memories of spending her days on the beautiful beaches and enjoying the local cuisine.  

Greece is a beautiful country, and it’s no wonder it receives so many visitors. However, it is important to not overlook the people who call Greece their home. Their kindness, hospitality and culture are what makes Greece truly beautiful.