Malia cleans up act, but struggles with image

Well-known as a party town for drunken Brits, Malia has long invited tourists to come and hang out, but now the Greek town is trying to move on.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, Europe
Malia cleans up act, but struggles with image - NewsMavens
Boy on beach, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The small town of Malia on the Greek island of Crete is known for its wild parties, cheap liquor shots and “boozy Brits.” In 2013, a record 18 British nationals were arrested for violent fights in public places, according to data provided by the local police. But since 2015, there’s only been one arrest per year for the same crime.

Malia's council and tourist officials have been trying to purge partying holiday makers and curb the dangerous behaviour associated with heavy drinking and the bar crawls that attract "boozy Brits".

“Everyone is welcome,” Efthymios Mountrakis, the Malia region’s vice mayor and local official responsible for tourism, told my WikiTribune colleague Eliza Gkritsi.  Larger rooms on offer and family-run hotels renovating their businesses means a more sensible clientele have been heading for the Malian coast.

But, of course, some small local businesses have been missing out. "We get no business from the new big resorts near Malia, where everything is provided by the hotel," said a local bar owner who requested to remain anonymous. "I’ve lost 70 percent of my revenue in the last year.”

Even so, Malia's image is still being tarnished by articles in the media and the enduring appeal of being a place for debauchery. The town is at a "tipping point", said Konstantinos Kanetas, who owns rental rooms, a souvenir shop and a bar in the area. "We are doing better, but next year this could change."

Details from the story:

  • Malia, the Greek town on the island of Crete was once known as a party town where Brits would flock in droves, is trying to change its image.
  • Declining "Booze tourism" has dramatically decreased the numbers of tourists spending lavishly in local businesses on souvenirs, drinks, food. 
  • Family-run businesses and bigger rooms have boosted visits from new clientele.
  • Newer and larger rooms are now attracting families and older professionals from Russia, Israel, Germany, Norway and beyond.
  • Bar crawls, party packages and nightclubs have faced bad headlines and negative reactions from locals.
  • Since 2010, more UK citizens have been arrested for public indecency incidents in Malia than other nationality.
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