Popular destinations GREECE
The economy of Skopelos is currently almost entirely dependent on tourism, which also provides for construction and other tourism-related economic activities. Although tourism is mainly concentrated on the summer months, Western and Northern Europeans come to Skopelos year-round.
Agriculture, once important to the economy of Skopelos, is becoming less so. Plum and almond orchards are still there, but less extensive than in the past. Wine production collapsed badly after the phylloxera disease that struck the grapes in the 1940s. Although wine production has resumed on a very small scale, it is mainly for domestic consumption and with grapes from Thessaly. Animal husbandry consists of rearing goats and sheep, which produce a local feta. Bee-keeping and honey production has been increasing in recent years. Skopelos also has a small fishing fleet that only fishes around the island for its own use.
Skopelos once had a thriving wooden ship industry and supplied, for example, many ships for the Greek War of Independence (1821-1831). With the advent of steamships, the shipbuilding industry gradually came to an end; only some repair shops are still active in this field.
Skopelos is unable to supply its population and tourists with food and goods produced on the island. Most of it is imported from mainland Greece and the VAT for such products is higher than for domestically produced food or goods. Gas and petrol are about 15% more expensive than on the mainland.
Of all the Sporades Islands, Skopelos and Skiathos are the most popular holiday destinations. However, the migration to these islands started late, as the islands were not really on the route of the many island hoppers. It was not until the late 1960s that islands such as Skopelos came into the picture for European backpackers. At present, Skopelos is beginning to surpass Skiathos as a popular holiday destination, but it still retains its original character and mass tourism has yet to take hold.
In the 19th century, Skopelos was a wealthy island due to its shipping industry, and a global company such as Lloyd's of London had an office on Skopelos. Even today, Skopelos has a number of shipowners' offices, but tourism is now the main source of income for the population.
A speciality of Skopelos, which is the most fertile of the Sporades Islands, is its white plums, found nowhere else in Greece. Skopelos could be called the plum island of the Aegean: eight different varieties are cultivated, including black, red and yellow plums, which are harvested from mid-June to mid-September. Prunes, too, are a speciality of Skopelos.
Olive oil (including the Pelion and Kalamata varieties) and wine (rosé) are also produced, as well as nougat, "stifado" (cheese), plum yoghurt, the very sweet fruit jelly "glikó koutalioú", "rozedes", pastry with almonds and nuts, and "chamalia", almond pastry with plums or oranges. Apart from plum trees, Skopelos is also full of olive trees, date trees, pomegranate trees and peach trees.
Agnondas has a kind of port of refuge, which can be used if bad weather prevents ships from docking in Skopelos' main port, Skopelos Town. The village of Loutraki has the second largest port on the island, where ferries also dock.
The village of Palio Klima, near Glossa in northern Skopelos, was hit by an earthquake in 1965, after which many empty houses were bought up by foreigners.
Quite a few of the buildings on Skopelos are so-called floating houses. After the Second World War, many Greeks emigrated abroad and now it is not known whose empty dilapidated houses these are.
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country ProfilesLast updated January 2024
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