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UK tourists told ‘go home’ from locals in popular holiday hotspot

In Europe
May 15, 2024

Anti-tourist sentiment has hit another popular destination as visitors are told to pack their bags.

In Athens, anti-tourist slogans have been spray-painted across the city’s walls as local frustrations boil over into Greece. Messages such as “Tourists go home” and “No Tourists No Hipsters” have appeared on the walls of the historic city, highlighting the growing tension between residents and tourists.

The surge in property prices is being attributed to the proliferation of Airbnb properties and other holiday rentals in Athens, with locals long expressing their discontent over the swarms of tourists clogging up streets and creating noise pollution. One particularly bold piece of graffiti that covers almost an entire side of a building proclaims, “Tourists enjoy your stay in the cemetery of Europe,” alluding to Athens’ status as an ancient capital and the increasing issue of residents being priced out of their own city.

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Last month saw protesters taking to the streets to call for action, chanting slogans like “They are taking our houses while they live in the Maldives”, reports the Mirror.

Dimitri, a local property developer, said: “80% of this neighbourhood are Airbnbs. Tourists who come here want to see the Greek culture, so if no more Greeks are living here, tourists won’t want to come.”

Greece, more so than many Mediterranean countries, is heavily dependent on tourism, which accounted for a fifth of its GDP in 2022. In Greece, over 40% of disposable income is spent on housing, a figure that surpasses any other European country.

Additionally, seven out of ten Greeks under the age of 34 still reside with their parents. Short-term holiday rental figures have skyrocketed by 500% in less than a decade as an increasing number of homeowners and landlords seek to profit from the record-breaking number of tourists visiting Greece.

This is a picture of the Acropolis of Athens and the old town of Plaka. The square in the foreground is Monastiraki square. The whole area is famous with tourists and locals alike.

The people of Athens have spoken out about the growing tourist trade. -Credit:Getty Images

Last year saw 33.4 million tourists, with approximately 6.7 million landing at Athens’ Eleutherios Venizelos Airport, as reported by the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises. The issue of overtourism in Athens and the challenge of addressing it is not a new phenomenon.

Last year, the city was placed on a ‘No Travel’ list compiled by Foders. The American publication argued that Athens, like many other historical cities, is being eroded and damaged due to uncontrolled tourism.

Having recovered in terms of visitor numbers following the financial crisis and coronavirus lockdowns, “there’s fear that if the surge of visitors continues unchecked, the most Athenian boroughs will culturally erode and physically disappear,” warns Fodors.

At the heart of the issue is the Acropolis, Greece’s biggest tourist draw and arguably its most renowned architectural gem. The site, which houses the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Propylaea entrance, sees nearly 17,000 visitors daily.

This symbol of ancient Greek civilisation is a must-visit location but has faced criticism in recent years. Numerous tourists have expressed dissatisfaction with their visit to the monument, arguing that the large crowds and the intense midday sun make it challenging to fully appreciate the atmosphere of the Acropolis.

The emergence of graffiti and protests in Athens coincides with demonstrations across Spain, where some locals are becoming weary of the effects of excessive tourism.

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