Europe fights tourism crush
Greece will start limiting the number of visitors to the Acropolis in an attempt to curb overcrowding at its most popular archaeological site amid wider concerns about the impact of tourists visiting European landmarks.
According to Greek Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni, the limit of 20,000 visitors per day will be checked from September 4, and similar measures will be taken for other ancient monuments across the country. She said the restrictions were driven by concerns about potential damage to the site and the experience of both staff and visitors.
“Tourism is obviously desirable for the country, for all of us,” she said. Ms. Mendoni to Greek Radio on Wednesday. “But we must find a way to prevent excessive tourism from damaging the monument.”
Restrictions on the ancient citadel above Athens come at a time of travel resurgence after the peak of the pandemic, with visitors flocking to European destinations during the high season in July and August and undeterred by high airfare and hotel prices.
But it brought back concerns about potential damage to culturally important monuments and local anger at noise and overcrowding. In response, officials in many places have tightened policies to allay fears that landmarks — and, more broadly, cities — could be irrevocably altered by overtourism.
Tourists queue to enter the Acropolis last month when officials restricted visiting hours after some tourists passed out from the afternoon heat.
“Destinations want to take control of tourism and make tourism more convenient for themselves,” said Ko Coens, professor of new urban tourism at the Inholland University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam, who has researched excessive tourism .
The Louvre in Paris, which attracted nearly eight million visitors last year, many of whom hustled to catch a glimpse of the Mona Lisa, has already limited entry to 30,000 a day. About 80 percent of tourist activity is concentrated in 20 percent of France, according to the government, which wants to help guide visitors away from popular destinations and into lesser-known areas.
In Italy, some beaches in Sardinia have begun requiring people to book their entry sites online, while officials in Venice said last year they would introduce a reservation system and entry fees for visitors, part of an effort to curb visitor numbers. in a fragile lagoon city. Some attractions, such as the monastery that houses da Vinci's Last Supper fresco, have limited availability.
In the Netherlands, Amsterdam has introduced a series of measures aimed at scaring uninvited tourists into the red-light district and banning cruise ships from mooring near the city center.
Home of the Parthenon, the Acropolis attracted up to 23,000 visitors each day and the number of visitors has nearly doubled in the first three months of this year compared to last year. Beginning in September, applications will be split into hourly slots during site hours from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, Ms. Mendoni said, reducing queues and bottlenecks during peak hours. However, there will be no limit on how long visitors spend on the Acropolis.
“In this way, we will strive to protect the monument, which is our main concern, as well as the visitor experience,” she added.
“Visiting tourists in general only wears these places out,” Prof Cohens said. Other historic sites, including the Cambodian temple complex of Angkor Wat, have also placed restrictions on visitors due to potential damage.
But Prof Cohens noted that the Acropolis hilltop could accommodate large crowds, and the fact that officials imposed the restriction signaled the number of visitors. “Now we've reached a stage where so many people are leaving that even they're starting to get crowded.”
The Acropolis also had to consider the weather this summer . During a heat wave that swept Greece last month, officials restricted visiting hours after some tourists passed out from the scorching heat of the day and workers at the site left due to what they called unsafe working conditions.
The question many popular travel destinations are now pondering, says Mr. Cohens, is: “How can we prevent the visitor experience from becoming so detrimental for local experience that it no longer has value?”