There were some very discontent tourists down below the Acropolis last month. Some of these people came from as far away as Japan with their main purpose being to visit this unique part of their universal heritage.
But because government, through ineptness or incompetence, has failed to look after the country’s most precious asset, its history, all the country’s ancient sites and museums closed for days due to a strike launched by the country’s culture ministry employees. The Greek government did, however, permit visitors to look at their birthright from afar.
Striking employees are not to blame. It would be a crime not to allow them the full power of the one lethal weapon they have to force employers, in this case the government, to pay attention to their needs, and in this case the needs of the country as well. They were demanding the hiring of additional staff so as to cover immediate and basic needs of archaeological sites and museums, and the payment of monies owed employees for overtime hours.
Additional staff is something everyone has been screaming for. The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies, which quickly appealed to the culture and national economy ministries to take action to not only end the strike but also to take the necessary measures to ensure we will not have more such walkouts, demands the same.
The association’s president, Yiannis Evangelou, said that for years we have been demanding increased staff at sites and this problem must be confronted once and for all. He added that the culture ministry does not appear to realize the effects of the strike in the middle of the tourist season and the loss of public revenues this entails.
Add to that the fact the culture minister does not seem to realize the tremendous disappointment and bad feelings this creates for some visitors to Athens and we agree with him. Perhaps more important, the minister does not seem to realize what he lords over. We would advise the minister to read and heed a message the late Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou forwarded to Greek Travel Pages in 1994:
“The cultural heritage of Greece, and its beauty, belongs to the peoples of the world and is the treasure of Greek tourism.”