A large meeting with representatives of institutional bodies and professionals from the tourism sector for the establishment of visitor zones, at the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens, was convened by the president of the Organization for Management and Promotion of Cultural Resources (ODAP), Nicoletta Valakou, in the presence of the Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni and the Secretary General of Culture Giorgos Didaskalos.
The objective of the meeting was to exchange views between ODAP leaders and Tourism representatives, on when to start implementing the new system, given that the study is completed and the ODAP has completed the procedures for its immediate implementation. It should be noted that tourism agencies and professionals were informed by ODAP of the preparation of the study, while they participated in the relevant research, as part of the study, by personally completing questionnaires.
During the meeting, the contractor presented the study in depth with the definition of the visit areas. An in-depth discussion followed with the participation of all stakeholders in the tourism sector. The main question from the Ministry of Culture and ODAP was the exact start time of the pilot application of the system: August 1 or September 1. From April 1, 2024, after evaluating and using the experience of the pilot application, the traffic zone system will be fully operational.
According to the data presented in the study, the ever-increasing traffic to the Acropolis recorded a daily record of 23,000 visitors while 21,000 visitors per day is mentioned as an ideal figure, in order to implement a policy to protect the monument.
Four hourly circulation zones are created from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. with a total of 8,000 visitors. It is worth noting that around 50% of visitors today prefer morning hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Eight time zones are created from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with 13,000 visitors. In the proposed number of visitors there are quotas in specific categories, such as group or individual visits, while there are no areas for disabled people, who can visit the monument according to their own planning .
Lina Mendoni: “Our main interest is the protection of the monument”
In her statement, Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni emphasized that “the main competence of the Ministry of Culture, according to the Constitution, is the protection of the monument. The Acropolis, like all cultural assets, constitutes a non-renewable resource, which we must protect, based on the principles of sustainable development. The fact is that we all have to adapt to the data defined by the monument itself.
Regarding the issue of the increase in traffic that is observed, even on days of extreme weather conditions, the minister highlighted that “recently some have spoken of ‘queues’, creating impressions. In foreign monuments , the visitor’s waiting time is much longer than the average waiting time at the Acropolis, but no similar issue has ever been raised by any stakeholder.
Lina Mendoni set as main conditions “the correct and effective cooperation of all parties as well as adaptation to the data coming from the capabilities of the monument itself”, emphasizing that “if the Acropolis did not exist, there would be no would have no queues. there would be no major tourist traffic”. She stressed “the need to make monuments more socially accessible, the decisive contribution of cultural heritage to the competitiveness of the tourist product and to the national economy, stressing that integrated protection of the monument does not allow daily travel to be limited; visitors must exceed 20,000”.
Concluding her statement, the minister requested that “ODAP and tourism agencies and professionals reach a binding agreement on the start time of the pilot application, taking into account that no problems should occur at the height of the tourist season. July 21 was set as the deadline for closing the consultation.