Anyone that’s ever traveled to Lefkada has been tempted to one of the island’s long established tourist rituals; a boat trip from the small town of Nidri to the small neighbouring islands – Meganissi, Madouri and, most notably, Skorpios.
Boatmen have been making a living for decades taking tourists around the island and serving them with decades-old gossip of the Onassis clan, pointing to the exact spot where Jackie O would prefer to go for swimming and sunbathing. Many of them were hoping to add new stories to this narrative, now that the small island is owned by billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, but the Russian oligarch had other plans – a multi-million investment that will turn the private island the first of its kind to be turned to a luxury resort.
The project was greenlit by the Greek government last week, although there are still a lot of things to be settled before the €120m project is set into motion.
Rybolovlev’s plan is to build at least a dozen luxury villas on the island, each with a total area of 500 to 1,200 sqm, with a total capacity of 48 beds and other accompanying facilities such as spas, restaurants, golf, tennis, basketball courts, football fields and a marina.
The investment is seen as a great opportunity for the region, promising to increase tourism in Lefkada, but to also create jobs for the residents, both in construction and the hospitality and services sectors. “The Ionian Islands Region is always in favor of large investments on its islands, provided that these investments operate in equal constitutional terms with local businesses”, said Deputy Regional Governor of the Ionian Islands Spyros Galiatsatos, speaking to the Athens News Agency. “Mr Rybolovlev’s investment will bring large capital; jobs will be created and in the neighboring area of Lefkada, more quality businesses will open to accommodate the wealthy visitors of Skorpios.”
Before that happens, though, a lot of environmental demands should be met. Skorpios, after all, has been designated as a European Union “Natura 2000” protected area. This means that no more than 5 percent of the island can be built, therefore any development plans should be very carefully executed, so as not to cause any kind of disharmony with the environment.