a view of a boat and the ocean from a white building

Don’t make an ass of yourself…

Ok, admittedly that tag line was all too easy and cheap. Santorini’s rise in popularity can be compared to a viral YouTube video, as tourism numbers soar to unprecedented levels. Always a favorite in pictures, tourists are now taking that big step to see the Greek island with their own eyes. Luxury hotels are everywhere and new flights are launched daily, yet the mesmerizing seas of blue, juxtaposed against white buildings and pink skies are as good as ever. It’s all boom, and it’s all good, with one exception. The islands beloved donkey population is suffering with injuries from an increasing number of overweight tourists. Local officials have now taken steps to address this big ass problem.

a pool overlooking the oceanCruise Ships

Cruise ships may bring boom to tourism economies, but they’re also known for busting things like infrastructure. Greek officials have put forth legislation in hopes of protecting the welfare of the islands beloved working donkeys and mules, keeping them from busting their spines. As one of the three main transportation means to get tourists up the islands hills, donkeys have faced an assload of work with the explosive tourist growth. The rising demand has caused spinal injuries, saddle sores and exhaustion. That’s just not nice, and no big “ass” jokes will make it any better.


Greek Agricultural Ministers have put forth legislation to protect donkeys from carrying too much weight, which is widely expected to pass into law. The new law would limit donkey loads to 100kg (about 220lbs) or one-fifth of its weight, according to the Guardian. The proposed legislation has quickly gone viral, because reading between the lines, one might surmise that the law is perfectly designed to keep overweight tourists off these poor donkeys backs. Of course, tourists are not specifically mentioned anywhere in the pages. Full enforcement is expected by the year 2020.

Santorini Strain

Cruise ships are said to bring more than 700,000 visitors a year, and with never ending buffets on board, some guests top out above 100kg. To reach the beautiful peaks of Santorini, travelers are limited to cable car, donkey rides, or the least popular option: walking. The sheer volume of ride requests are breaking the islands camels donkeys collective backs. Other than the protection of animal welfare, forcing tourists to walk up hills may have more than one positive consequence on the world of travel, even if its unintended. The legislation is being heralded by animal welfare groups, and an online petition in support garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

Featured image courtesy of Canaves Oia

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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