Greece has implemented a new policy to combat overtourism at the Acropolis, in Athens, the ancient Greek monument that has been a popular tourist destination for years. The new policy limits the number of daily visitors to 20,000. Before the cap, the site got around 23,000 daily visitors. The move is aimed at reducing the impact of overtourism, which has been a growing concern in Europe and other parts of the world.
The new policy, which began on Monday, September 4th 2023, for a trial period, also includes a timed ticketing system and an hourly slot system to manage the flow of visitors, and will become permanent as of April 1st 2024, Lina Mendoni, Greece’s culture minister has advanced.
A booking website will keep track of footfall and enforce the hourly slot system. To secure their visit, tourists must reserve a specific time slot in advance through the official Acropolis website. The Unesco World Heritage Site will welcome 3,000 visitors between 8-9 am, followed by an allowance of 2,000 guests from 9-10 am. Subsequently, entry quotas will vary hourly until the site closes at 8 pm. The new system will not only be used at the Acropolis, but also at other Greek sites.
The decision to limit the number of visitors to the Acropolis was made after years of concern about the impact of overtourism on the site, including damage to the monument and overcrowding. The monument has been a popular destination for tourists for many years and the number of visitors has been steadily increasing. When a destination exceeds its capacity to accommodate visitors, it typically leads to detrimental effects on the environment, culture and the well-being of local residents.
Other countries have been taking similar measure in attempts to manage overtourism. Like Greece, Japan has also implemented a tourism cap on the Iriomote island, in the Okinawa prefecture, aimed at protecting native wild cats, restricting the number of tourists to 1,200 per day.
The concept of taxing tourists is also gaining support in cities like Venice and Amsterdam. Previously this year, the dutch capital also launched a “Stay Away” campaign for foreign tourists who only visit Amsterdam for “alcohol, drugs and sex”.