The attraction’s visitor numbers have increased by 70 percent in the past month, giving a taste of what’s to come this summer without crowd control.
The Acropolis cannot help but elicit a sense of wonder in visitors.
But when Caroline Kutek visited the famous archaeological site of Athens recently, she’s had a hard time ignoring the crowds.
“The wait and the number of people here are really overwhelming,” said the 30-year-old American customer service operator.
She stood in plain sight of hundreds of people queuing on the way up to the 2,500-year-old monument, an all-too-common sight.
Australian sales assistant Jackie Zachary admitted she did not expect such a high volume of tourists in June and thought July would be busier.
According to Greek state organization for the management of cultural resources (ODAP), the Acropolis welcomed an impressive number of 14,000 visitors in May, an increase of 70% compared to 2022.
ODAP President Ilias Patsarouhas noted that daily visits from April matched levels seen in August, traditionally the busiest month for Greek tourism.
Why is the Acropolis so crowded?
As the world witnesses a resurgence in demand for leisure travel, sightseeing figures in Greece are approaching pre-pandemic levels.
This, combined with the earlier start to the tourist season, has exacerbated the problem.
Even with a “fast pass” online, Kutek and his family had to wait around 15 minutes to get in.
Kutek described the top of the Acropolis like the worst, where people had to huddle together in a single line, resulting in the splitting of groups.
world heritage Watch, a non-governmental organization supporting UNESCO, has expressed concern that the Acropolis does not have the visitor management plans required by the United Nations World Heritage Convention, to which Greece is a signatory.
Stephan Doempke, president of World Heritage Watch, highlighted the long-standing problem of “overtourism” at the site, saying that without a management plan and an understanding of how to manage tourists, the Acropolis, a site of world, is in danger. risk.
Congestion at the Propylaea, gateway to the sanctuarysometimes gets so bad that security guards have to intervene, according to Patsarouhas.
The situation worsens when cruise ships dock at the port of Piraeus, leading to an influx of two to three thousand passengers and waiting times exceeding an hour.
Ioannis Mavrikopoulos, a veteran Acropolis caretaker, pointed to the chronic understaffing at the Acropolis. archaeological sites across the country, particularly on the Greek islands where conditions are described as “dramatic”.
How is Greece fighting overtourism at the Acropolis?
Greece’s culture ministry approved controversial restoration work on the Acropolis two years ago, which included the construction of a new concrete walkway.
The ministry defended the redesign, saying it improved wheelchair accessibility and reduced the risk of accidents. However, Doempke criticized the improvements, suggesting they were aimed at increasing tourist numbers and were therefore “totally irresponsible”.
Address overcrowdingthe ministry plans to gradually introduce a system of time slots by the end of June.
However, the site guardians claim that the implementation of the new system mid-season is a mistake that further burdens their work.
Mavrikopoulos recommended that any changes be implemented after the tourism season.
As Greece relies on tourism to revive its economy after a decade-long debt crisis, authorities hope to surpass the record 31.3 million arrivals recorded in 2019.
video editor • Joanna Adhem