Primary Sector

Last years, agricultural activity on Leros was characterized by a growing decline, while at the same time it was noted that major agricultural land was being abandoned.

This image is directly linked to the fact that a great part of the same work force traditionally employed in the farming sector, is now being absorbed by the Leros’s State Rehabilitative Institution. The exact number of employees working on farms is not possible to determine as the majority of cultivations belongs directly or indirectly to the employees of the State Rehabilitation Institution.

There are great areas of land that remain uncultivated. This results from the lack of federal funding and suggestions for productive agricultural development by the Ministry of Agriculture. As a result, only 2 green houses, in a 2000 square metre area, are in operation presently on Leros. Only one of these greenhouses is heated. The areas with a water supply are scarce while the irrigations systems required for the Aegean Islands are even less.

There are 40 organized cattle-breeders on the island. Sheep and goat breeding make up the majority of the breeding activity. Further, two organized cow-breeders are involved with dairy farming and dairy production. Also, there is one poultry and egg producing farm and three pig-breeding live stock farms. One of them is a large mixed meats production plant and 2 other smaller family run operations. In 2005, the construction of a modern slaughter house was established at Partheni which now satisfies the needs of the island’s live-stock breeders.

The manufacturing and standardization of agricultural products in Leros include only a limited number of products. Although the State Rehabilitation Institution represents a strong presence in the market, local purchasing of perishable food products is very low on the island. There is, however, a high quality of local cheese products which are preserved in a traditional mud-wine-oregano-ash mixture.

Likewise, there is a wide network of bee-keepers with a potential capacity for the development of approximately 1500 modern beehives. Leros produces an excellent quality of thyme honey in sufficient quantities. The annual honey production amounts to approximately 20 tones while it is very likely that a prominent number of new beehives will be installed. Some beekeepers are working in collaboration with KOISPE for the installation of the beehives, while the local honey is being standardised.

The fishing industry on the other hand presents an entirely different image especially after the transitions of recent years and the withdrawal of fishing boats The fishing fleet of Leros is composed of 15 trawler boats, 2 set boats, 2 boats with an acetylene lamp, 2 drifters and 150 fishing boats. The total number of regular employees is 350. Regardless of its present declining state, fishing is the second highest source of employment. It is second only to the employment at the State’s Rehabilitation Institution.

The farming sector presents a serious percentage of agricultural development that is completely unexploited. The ideal climatic conditions and the high demand and growth in the market for natural, organically grown and cultivated products would be the most substantial boost to strengthen the island’s local economy.

Manufacturing – Small industry

Apart from agricultural productivity, the small business sector and manufacturing activity is on the down swing and is very limited. The main flourishing source of activity is the manufacturing industry with the exception of jewellery workshops, bakeries and confectioneries, the manufacturing of tourist goods and pottery as well as limiting the productivity of sea bass and gilthead fish farming to a 600 – 700 tonne yearly capacity.

The biggest enterprises operating in the secondary sector is the mining of raw mineral materials (1 company) and the manufacturing of building materials such as concrete and steel (3 companies).

The marked increase in the tourist industry over the last few years has boosted the economy and as a result it has increased the demand for the development and construction industry.


The sector of boat repairing and maintenance has shown a significant improvement due to the evident increase in to the tourist industry over the last few years. There are tow organised marinas in operation on Leros that provide service, maintenance and repairs to boat engines, sails, woodworking and electrical repairs to boats anchored in the harbour.

Leros is an island in the Aegean Sea of exceptional beauty and is has not been over-whelmed by mass tourism and has managed to keep its identity and local island characteristics over time. Leros is not as developed as the larger islands in the Dodecanese like Rhodes and Kos and does not market the slogan of “Sun, Sand and Sea. On the contrary, it tempts foreigners as being an alternative travel destination for all. Today, the island has successfully broken its obvious association with the State’s Psychiatric Institution and can independently position itself among the ideal alternative holiday destinations in the Dodecanese. In collaboration with the Municipal Partner Institution for the Development of Leros, (ANSYL), the travel industry business people have systematically taken on promoting the island’s tourist product to the Mass Media and to Greek and international exhibitions and trade shows.

In 2004, 27 hotel units were in operation in Leros with a capacity of 1168 beds as well as 60 different room rental businesses and one camping facility. Twenty-one hotels on the island are classified as C class, 5 units are C and D classes and only one is considered B class. According to the official Dodecanese Chamber of Commerce report, 16 other room rental facilities operate on Leros. In 2003, the arrivals and over-night accommodations totalled 1753 and 6144, respectively. Seventy-eight percent of the arrivals were Greek people and twenty-two percent were foreigners. The percentage of foreign arrivals has shown a decline.

Since the implementation of the Development Act of 1982 to present, the plan for the development of hotel units has been approved and resulting in the increase of availability of hotel accommodations. The building boom of tourist facilities during the 1980’s has completely modified the industry allowing for a standard infrastructure of smaller quality units to be available to the public. These units comply with the local requirement and are truly unique and quaint while being substantially different from the massive development complexes of the larger island of Rhodes and Kos. They serve as a model of development for up-coming smaller tourist destinations to the Dodecanese like Kalymnos and Karpathos.

Goods – Services

Taking into consideration the small population of Leros, there has been a substantial increase to the activity of the third sector with goods and services. According to the Dodecanese’s Chamber of Commerce, there are 165 wholesale/ retail businesses, while 25% of them deal with food services and household goods. The State Psychiatric Unit alone generates the greatest demand for food provision and therefore justifies the increasing trend of the third sector. On the other hand, there are approximately 60 other businesses that supply services such as hairdressers, vehicle trade and rental, tutorial schools as well as 100 restaurants, cafés and bars.

Social economy

The implementation of Psychiatric Reform under the Reformation Act № 815/84 led to encouraging results to the quality of life, nursing, and the patients’ rehabilitation. This also led to the decline of patients requiring treatment at the institution. The long-term goal of the Psychiatric Reforming Program was to gradually reduce State Psychiatric Hospital including PIKPA (the Institution for Physical and Mentally Challenged Individuals) into a psychiatric sub-division infrastructure serving the South Aegean area but at the same time up-dating and modernizing the facility. Inevitably, the number of employees at the State’s Rehabilitation Institution has been down-sized and the training and specialization programmes modified. Today, some 1200 people work there.

In 1990, in the framework for the Reform of the rehabilitation programmes had been inaugurated and financed by the European Union. In 1991, the beginning of interventions and transformation were initiated by the development of LEROS 1 Programme. Thus, the first Co-operative Therapeutic Unit was established aiming through the Agricultural CO-OP to train and rehabilitate patience. According to the LEROS II (1993 – 1995) programme, the rest of the facilities for the vocational rehabilitation of patience were built. In 1994, the pottery workshop, the cleaning team, two canteens, the drawing workshop, the knitting, needlework and area rug-making workshops are established. In 1999, the Psichargos Programme is inaugurated, which finances the institution’s Pastry-making workshops.

The next step into the direction of social-economic embodiment and vocational placement in the workforce for people with psychiatric challenges is the foundation of the Social Cooperatives of Limited liability in the Mental Health Sector (KOI.S.P.E), of the Prefecture of the Dodecanese. In 2002, all steps to implement the Dodecanese’s, KOISPE programme were completed. Home base for this programme is Leros. The first activities of KOISPE were the production of gardening products, the standardization of honey in collaboration with local producers and the development and baking of sweets and confectionery products for catering occasions.

The Manufacturing and standardisation of honey is the association’s first financial .investment of KOISPE. Applications have been made to the LEADER Programme and the Ministry of Agriculture for financial subsidization to honey manufacturing as a Community initiative.