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Anti-tourism protests spread to Greece with holidaymakers told to ‘go home’

Graffiti has now appeared on the walls of Athens as growing anti-tourism protests now flare up in Greece.

Messages including ‘tourists go home’ have been daubed on walls of the ancient capital – a long-time popular destination for holidaymakers – while one particularly large piece of graffiti, covering most of the side of a house, read ‘tourists enjoy your stay in the cemetery of Europe’, apparently referring to Athens’ reputation as the continental capital of antiquity and the claim that large numbers of residents are being priced out of it.

The protests come at a similar time to the demonstrations in Spain by residents who have grown tired of the impact of too many tourists. As The Mirror reports, locals and holidaymakers are increasingly at odds in Athens.

Residents have long complained about huge flocks of tourists blocking streets and causing excessive noise while the spread of Airbnbs and other holiday lets is being blamed for rising property prices. Last month there were protests on the streets demanding change, with chants of: “They are taking our houses while they live in the Maldives”.

A local called Anna Theodorakis, who was apparently forced out of her house in Metaxourgio, Athens, told France24: “I think the answer is to go in the streets and block everything and just not do something because people are losing their homes.” Dimitri, a property developer, said that “80% of this neighbourhood are Airbnbs”, adding: “Tourists who come here want to see the Greek culture so if no more Greeks are living here, tourists won’t want to come.”

Greece is said to be heavily reliant upon tourism, which made up a fifth of its GDP in 2022. More than 40% of disposable income in Greece is spent on housing – higher than in any other European country.

Meanwhile, seven in 10 Greeks under the age of 34 still live with their parents. Short-term holiday rental figures have surged by 500% in less than a decade, added the report, as increasing numbers of homeowners and landlords attempt to cash in upon the record-breaking numbers of people now visiting Greece.

There were 33.4 million tourists last year: about 6.7m of them arriving at Athens’ Eleutherios Venizelos Airport, according to the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises. Concerns of over-tourism in Athens are nothing new.

Last year the capital was put on a ‘No Travel’ list compiled by Foder’s Travel. The American outlet claimed Athens is one of the many great historical settlements being eroded and damaged due to out-of-control tourism.

It said there is a fear that if the surge of visitors continues unchecked then Athenian boroughs will culturally erode and disappear.

The city’s Acropolis – home to the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaea entrance – is said to be the biggest tourist attraction in Greece and is visited each day by almost 17,000 people. In recent years visitors to the symbol of ancient Greek civilization have also complained that large crowds, as well as intense heat, have marred their experience of it.

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/whats-on/travel-tourism/anti-tourism-protests-spread-greece-29178444

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