A crowd-free Acropolis? It’s yours for €5,000

The Acropolis Museum is celebrating its 12th birthday

The Acropolis, an ancient Greek monument of great value and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is struggling with its own popularity. During peak season, the number of visitors reaches an overwhelming 22,000 per day, causing the Athenian landmark to be frequently overcrowded with tourists.

In a bid to alleviate congestion and offer a more intimate experience, the Greek culture ministry has launched a new scheme – exclusive, out-of-hours tours led by archaeologists for small groups of up to five people.

However, exclusivity comes at a steep price. These coveted tours cost £4,285 (€5,000) per group, sparking concerns about accessibility and accusations of elitism.

British tourists Jackie and Malcolm Love, who recently visited Athens, were dismayed by the sheer volume of visitors at the Acropolis. "We didn't go," Jackie confessed to the Guardian, "not with all those people." While they considered a private tour, the astronomical cost left them speechless. "We couldn't pay that," stated Malcolm, a lorry driver. "Crazy prices," Jackie echoed, "Certainly not for people like us."

The new initiative offers tours outside regular opening hours, with slots from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. This caters to tour operators' requests but raises questions about accessibility for individual travellers.

Nikoleta Valakou, president of the Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development, a body linked to the culture ministry, defended the scheme. "We've had requests from tour operators for this for a very long time," she explained. The ministry is even prepared to accept bookings from individual tourists, provided they are willing to cover the full €5,000 group fee. This option could potentially generate substantial revenue, with a maximum of €40,000 (£34,124) per day.

The Acropolis authorities now face a delicate balancing act. While exclusive tours offer a potential solution to overcrowding, ensuring broader accessibility remains a critical concern. The success of this new scheme will likely hinge on its ability to address both issues and create a sustainable model for managing tourism at this iconic landmark.

Read More -UNESCO Sites in Greece

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