Greek government officials and representatives of the tourism industry have held urgent meetings to discuss the negative image of Greece that’s being broadcast round the world.
Violent anti-austerity street demonstrations, which have left three people dead, have come as the spring tourist season is getting under way. Tourism is one of the few growth industries in Greece, accounting for about 16 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and about one in five jobs.
“People will think twice about going to Greece,” said Ian Gamse, a director at London-based Otus & Co., which advises the luxury hotel chains Marriott International Inc. and Hilton Worldwide. “People who have booked are going to start calling their tour operators. If Greece can’t get the situation under control, it is going to be a big problem.”
According to the latest statistics from the Greek Institute of Tourism Research and Projections, there has already been a ten per cent drop in bookings from Germany and a seven per cent decline in British tourists.
The head of the Federation of Greek Tourism Enterprises, Nikos Aggelopoulos, voiced his pain for the death of the three people, and called for calm.
“Politicians should cooperate to solve a crisis created by all, and business people should show a different image of a Greece which has a vision for progress, social justice and prosperity. Otherwise the effects will be destructive,” said Aggelopoulos.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London has issued a warning that tourists to Greece should be aware of potential danger, including indiscriminate attacks on places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
by Andy Moreton
A major restoration project has been completed on the 2,500-year-old monumental gateway to the Acropolis in Athens.
The seven-year project, costing 6.5 billion euros (£5.85 billion /$9.3 billion) involved lengthening the roof on the ancient marble building known as the Propylaea. The Culture Ministry said 255 blocks of marble had been taken down from the monument so that experts could remove metal clamps used by previous restorers. These had rusted and had also caused extensive cracking.
The Propylaea is the only Acropolis monument to retain large sections of its ancient roofing. The hilltop temples are also undergoing extensive restoration, expected to continue beyond 2020.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers top-class luxury hotels in Athens with views of the Acropolis, including the sumptuous King George II Palace and Grand Bretagne.
The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, is to promote itself as a must-see cruise destination.
A £35,000 ($55,000) marketing campaign and dedicated website will attempt to cash in on the growing popularity of the Northern European cruise liner business and achieve for the city a 40 per cent rise in passenger numbers by 2013. It’s estimated that 55,000 passengers came to Edinburgh during this year’s season.
Edinburgh’s specific aim is to increase its presence on the itineraries of the Norwegian and Baltic cruise operators.
Because cruise liner passengers spend more on average than other tourists, they are being seen as an important means of achieving the target of increasing Scotland’s tourism revenues by 50 per cent by 2015.
Peter Lederer, the chairman of the national tourism agency, VisitScotland, said: “Growing tourism is critical to the future of Scotland … in the current economic climate, it’s crucial we work together to get tourism growth back on track.”
The city authorities have a long-term ambition to have a new dedicated cruise liner terminal at Leith docks.
by Andy Moreton
Dubbed by some ‘the Athens of the North’, Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals. At Luxique we’ve come up with eleven hand-picked luxury hotels in Edinburgh, from the classic Balmoral to the chic Malmaison Edinburgh.
The new museum at the Acropolis in Athens is to have its grand opening on June 20th.
Festivities have been scaled down because of the recession, but the event will still be marked by a dinner for visiting heads of state and government and a high-tech show in the new building.
The glass and concrete museum, lying at the foot of the Acropolis, will give visitors the chance to gaze at the Parthenon while looking at displays and artefacts from the ancient Greek site. It’s hoped to attract two million guests a year. Until the end of 2009, the entrance price will be a mere 1 euro (90p / $1.40), rising to 5 euros (£4.50 / $7) in 2010.
The building was designed by Bernard Tschumi, a Swiss architect, and Michalis Photiadis, his Greek associate. Its construction took almost 10 years as Byzantine-era ruins found on the site had to be excavated and the ground floor redesigned.
Amid all the excitement of the opening, a shadow hangs over the project because of the absence from the displays of the 2,500-year-old Elgin – or Parthenon – Marbles. These sculptures were removed in the early years of the 19th century by Lord Elgin, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, of which Greece was still an unwilling part.
They’re on display at the British Museum in London and repeated Greek requests for the works to be returned have been turned down. Officials argue that the collection was legally acquired from Lord Elgin and is accessible, free of charge, to millions of visitors.
The Greek Culture Minister, Andonis Samaras, said the inaugural ceremony would not be directly used to promote Greece’s campaign for the return of the Marbles, but he believed that the new museum’s display — which will highlight the absence of about half the surviving Parthenon sculptures — would turn public opinion in Greece’s favour.
by Andy Moreton
Luxique can help you book top-class luxury hotels in Athens close to the Acropolis, including the sumptuous King George II Palace and Grand Bretagne.
Part of the Acropolis in Athens is to be a no-go area for high heels and chewing gum.
Greek officials say irreparable damage is being caused to the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a stone theatre structure located on the south slope of the famous tourist site. The theatre attracts 350,000 visitors a year, is one of the main venues of the Athens festival and has hosted the Bolshoi Ballet.
Two years ago, cleaning crews reportedly removed 59 pounds of chewing gum from the theatre’s delicate marble seats. Stilettos are also causing damage during performances at the theatre.
The Culture Minister, Antonis Samaras, has submitted a draft law to parliament, suggesting that anyone caught chewing gum or wearing heels could risk a hefty fine and arrest. A set of guidelines coming into force from next January will also ban food and drink at performances and forbid entry to anyone who is drunk.
Over 18 months of writing these articles, it’s depressing to see how many times I’ve had to report on selfish tourist behaviour – drunkenness, litter-bugging, graffiti on a Basilica terrace in Florence and on the Great Wall of China, and now chewing gum on ancient marble. As the Chinese tell their people: “The cultivation of a congenial and harmonious travel environment benefits every tourist. It is our bounden duty to be a tourist with refined manners.”
by Andy Moreton
A new museum opens at the Acropolis in June (more on that next month). If you’re planning a visit to Greece, Luxique has a varied selection of luxury hotels in Athens, including the celebrated Grand Bretagne.
The Acropolis temples in the Greek capital, Athens, are being given a high-tech makeover.
Over the past two-and-a-half thousand years, the elaborately sculpted stones have fallen prey to a film of black crust from car exhaust fumes and industrial pollution.
Now, a team of Greek engineers and restorers are using innovative laser technology to clean the surface of the monuments, uncovering colours and ornamentation hidden for decades.
The team tested forty different methods, including mechanical and chemical processes, to find the safest solutions to restore the white of the marbles without losing detail.
The winner was the brainchild of Crete’s Foundation for Research and Technology, which created a system that uses two laser beams of infra-red and ultra-violet rays simultaneously. The new system blasts off layers of black film, leaving the marble details intact and without discoloration.
It’s a risky business though, requiring the utmost precision. In the past, restoration attempts have caused damage.
“The cleaning is not reversible,” said Evi Papaconstantinou, the head of the restoration team. “If you remove something, you cannot put it back in place. So we must be quite sure that we remove the unwanted pollutants and leave the substratum intact.”
by Andy Moreton
Luxique offers top-class luxury Athens hotels with views of the Acropolis, including the sumptuous King George II Palace and Grand Bretagne.