“The improvement of public safety is a prerequisite for tourism development especially in the historic center of the capital but also more widely throughout Athens,” Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said in late July after a meeting with Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias.
The tourism minister discussed tourism matters in connection with the center of Athens and focused on the need to protect the city’s tourism product from external factors that affect its image.
Mrs. Kefalogianni underlined that public safety could be ensured if Greece’s immigration policy would be more strict to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants to the country.
She also said increased policing in areas where there are severe problems (muggings, drug trafficking, prostitution) was mandatory.
Over the past two years, 25 hotels in central Athens have shut down due to low bookings and rising crime while others have suspended their operation or become seasonal hotels.
In early August, in an effort to “take back Athens,” the Greek Government launched a sweep operation under the code name “Xenios Zeus” that included mass arrests of undocumented immigrants throughout Athens and aimed to crackdown on illegal trade, drug trafficking and prostitution.
Public Order and Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Dendias told a press conference that the living conditions of the unregistered migrants in the Athens center were shameful.
“The picture of the city center creates fear and shame for residents and abhorrence to the visitors and tourists,” Mr. Dendias said.