Athens Declares "No More Tourism" as Overtourism Takes Its Toll

athens

The government of Greece has issued a firm warning to tourists from the UK, effectively stating "no more tourism" as the historic city of Athens grapples with the pressure of overtourism. This declaration is a response to rising tensions and disruptions caused by the influx of British vacationers.

Rising Anti-Tourist Sentiment in Athens

In Athens, the discontent with the excessive number of tourists has led to several manifestations of anti-tourist sentiment. This includes graffiti targeting foreigners, protests voicing concerns about the transformation of local neighborhoods, and even acts of vandalism and arson. A recent demonstration witnessed demonstrators loudly expressing their frustrations, accusing tourists of occupying local housing while indulging in opulent accommodations elsewhere, such as in the Maldives.

Local Residents' Plight

Anna Theodorakis, a resident impacted by these changes, shared with France24 her experience of being forced out of her home in Athens' Metaxourgio area. She argued that direct action in the streets was necessary to stop the activities displacing locals. Theodorakis emphasized the specific issue with the proliferation of Airbnb properties, which she claimed were diminishing the distinct character of traditional neighborhoods and leaving her feeling like an outsider in her own country.

Concerns from Within the Tourism Industry

Even those within the tourism sector, such as Dimitri, a property developer in Athens, acknowledge the detrimental effects of overtourism. He observed that the conversion of properties into Airbnb accommodations has reached a point where the local culture is being significantly diluted, potentially jeopardizing Athens' appeal as a tourist destination that celebrates its Greek heritage.

Greece's Counteroffer to Affected British Tourists

Despite the challenges in Athens, Greek tourism officials are endeavoring to mitigate the impact of last year's Rhodes wildfires on tourism. They are offering a complimentary week's stay on the island of Rhodes to British tourists whose vacations were disrupted by the fires. This initiative, known as 'Rodos Week,' aims to revitalize interest in the region by providing e-vouchers for hotel accommodations, with values ranging between €300 and €500, contingent on the hotel's category.

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