Greece’s ombudsman said reforms are needed if the country wants to maintain a healthy tourism industry.

According to Reuters, the country’s ombudsman has called for urgent reform to reduce rampant construction and protect water resources and coastal areas.

Around 33 million people visited Greece last year, five million more than 2022, drawn by its ancient archaeological sites, turquoise Mediterranean waters and reliably sunny weather.

But a new report from the Greek Ombudsman warns there are growing environmental risks.

“Our country’s economy relies heavily on tourism which makes the need to manage it in a sustainable way even more urgent,” the report said.

Greece must not “exhaust its potential, wasting it and making our tourist destinations unattractive over time”.

The report, the first on tourism, said over a quarter of economic output and nearly two million Greeks’ annual income comes from the sector.

Revenues are expected to rise to 21 billion in 2024 from 20.5 billion last year – a boon for an economy emerging from a decade-long debt crisis.

Popular tourist spot, Santorini, with its population of 15,550, receives more than 5.5 million visitors annually, twice the number it hosted in 2012, the report said.

The island contributes 1 billion euros in annual receipts.

“In Santorini, even tourists complain about the great number of tourists.”

It called for greater regulation to reduce coastal construction and slow the felling of forests which creates the right conditions for flooding.

Greater care of water resources in the face of “huge” requirements for drinking water, swimming pools and water parks was also flagged.

“Tourism is a field where the lack of vision and strategy emerges with particular intensity. The exercise of a clear tourism governance is an immense need,” the report said.