“The primary issue is to restore order and to consolidate a sense of security to those who are in central Athens, whether they are tourists, businessmen or permanent residents, and then everything else will fall into place,” the president of the Athens-Attica Hotel Association and the Hellenic Federation of Hoteliers, Yiannis Retsos, said during a recent interview to a Greek radio station.
Mr. Retsos was referring to the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou that took place in May and focused on the city center’s tarnished image. Following the cabinet meeting, measures to revamp the Greek capital’s historic center and increase security for Greek residents and foreign visitors were announced.
“The problem’s solution should not begin with financial incentives or concessions as other things must be done first… A sense of safety must be consolidated in this area that has gone completely out of control,” Mr. Retsos said.
The Culture and Tourism Ministry also announced actions to strengthen the cultural, historical and modern identities of the city of Athens.
According to the press, the ministry aims to coordinate small and large cultural institutions so their events would take place in the streets and squares of the city center and attract the general public back to the downtown areas.
However, Mr. Retsos said the situation in Athens center has become such a complex problem that has “run wild” on many levels that now it remains to be seen if the measures would be implemented in the form they were announced, how they would be implemented and if ultimately they would have any effect.