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Mayor of Athens says tourism in Greece isn’t ‘viable’ anymore as every customer solely provides €0.40 to the economic system

Jul 9, 2024 | blog

Summers in Athens are about historic sights just like the Parthenon, colourful markets and plates of souvlakis. But these days, it’s gotten laborious to deal with the variety of folks chasing these precise issues. 

Authorities within the Greek capital of Athens have lamented town’s tipping into overtourism territory, making crowds unmanageable. To management that, town capped the variety of vacationers who may go to the Acropolis to twenty,000 final 12 months, as vacationers flocked to Greece past simply {the summertime}. 

Tourism is a double-edged sword in Greece. The variety of guests has exploded past management, rising by 120% between 2019 and 2023. But since Greece derives 25-30% of its GDP from vacationer actions—with that quantity hovering to 90% on the island of Santorini—cracking down on it isn’t simple.

Still, the headache of extreme guests and its influence on native communities and town itself has made tourism in its present kind isn’t sustainable, Athens’s Mayor Harris Doukas stated.         

“Each visitor brings €0.40 to the city, and we haven’t seen this money yet,” Doukas instructed Euronews. “We need to find a way to make tourism viable.”

Tourists in Monastiraki Square in Athens, Greece
Tourists in Monastiraki Square in Athens, Greece, pictured in June 2024.

Hilary Swift—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Last 12 months, a whopping 33 million vacationers visited Greece—over thrice the nation’s inhabitants. More tourism means a larger financial increase by propping up native enterprise actions. But they’ve resulted in a disproportionate pressure on infrastructure, housing and environmental assets. These are significantly urgent as Greece grapples with the aftermath of wildfires lately. 

“It turns out that the pressures exerted by tourism on the environment are linked to the change of land uses (due to the creation of new infrastructure and other facilities for tourist use), and specifically with the expansion of the urban environment at the expense of the natural,” a authorities report on sustainable tourism discovered as a part of a broader effort to alter Greece’s method in direction of tourism.  

Earlier this 12 months, Greece launched a “climate crisis resilience tax” that goals to lift funds that may assist it deal with pure disasters by charging vacationers by their lodge payments.    

Managing overtourism in a fragile but agency approach

Given its relationship with the tourism and hospitality sectors, Greece has tried to handle its guests with a raft of measures, together with extending the holiday season to an extended interval and fining beach-bound vacationers who take up an excessive amount of area with their sunbeds and umbrellas. 

“Our goal is to protect both the environment and the right of citizens to access the beach freely, and to preserve our tourism product as well as healthy entrepreneurship,” Economy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis stated in an announcement, in line with Agence France-Presse.

Travel demand was almost zilch three years in the past on the pandemic’s peak. But it has since come again roaring—and several other different European cities are additionally going through the warmth of it. Italy and the Netherlands are grappling with a phenomenon much like Greece’s.

In response to the specter of overtourism, Amsterdam has curbed the development of latest lodges and plans to restrict cruise ship dockings in its harbor, whereas Venice has launched an entry charge for its guests as of this summer season. 

With customer numbers steadily rising, nations now face a fragile steadiness between selling and limiting tourism, particularly the place it’s an important piece of the economic system.

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