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Major Rise in Visits to Greek Museums and Sites

Although some recent studies show that foreign visitors to Greece shy away from museums, tickets sold for entrance to museums have increased significantly. According to Archaeological Receipts and Expropriations Fund, the increase is due to museum renovations and the opening of new museums.

And if we add the visits to archaeological sites, the increase reaches more than 30% with more than 8.6 million people visiting either a museum or site between January and October of 2005. That compares with 7.2 million in 2004, the year that the Summer Olympic Games were held in Athens when the number of tickets sold actually fell by 5 percent.

The fund also announced a rise in revenue of 11 percent from publications and productions, and a 50 percent increase in sales of other items. However, there was a decrease in sales of the fund’s popular replicas, which were down by 10 percent.

The increase in the number of tickets sold for museums (2,152,000 visitors) as well as archaeological sites (6,500,000 visitors), said the fund, was a result of refurbishment and regular management checks.

The fund criticized earlier administrations, noting that in 1993 the fund had a surplus of 7 billion drachmas (20.5 million euros), and insisted that it would not take out another loan. Over the past decade or so, the fund contracted three loans for which it must pay interest of about 15 million euros a year until 2015.

The fund has other burdens as well. It is the sole supplier of funds to various projects (to which it has given 40 million euros so far), and it also contributes 1 percent of its revenues to the ministry employees’ Solidarity Fund.

In order to increase revenue so as to cover its financial obligations, the fund said this year it would launch new products, such as paperweights, T-shirts, cloth bags bearing the logos of museums, and posters. It also said that it is determined to carry out a thorough internal reorganization.

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