Any trip to Athens, Greece would not be complete without a visit to the Acropolis, the purest remaining form of what the Greeks thought architecture should be. And yet, if you stopped by a few weeks ago, you might have been surprised to find large banners proclaiming support for a communist trade union adorning the Acropolis hill. These banners are the most visible and literal signs of the Greek debt crisis affecting the historic landmarks in the country, but they are not the ones doing the most damage. That honor goes to the drop in tourism that Greece has experienced since the beginning of the global recession and runs through the country’s fiscal problems to the present. More on how the debt crisis is affecting historical landmarks after the break.
Tourism to Greece account’s for 15% of the nation’s gross domestic product, and is the top earning sector in the country. Any dip in this income, even a minor one, has broad repercussions for the restoration and preservation of the historic structures in Greece. Less tourism means less money that sites like the Acropolis generate, and much of that money generated is put directly back into the building for repair and restoration.
Tourism is also an important part of another country that has recently dealt with protests and a drop in visitors from overseas. As the Egyptian people revolted against their government, many people watched the protests and decided to delay or cancel their trips to the country. While this is understandable and even necessary, Egypt has yet to see a return to pre-protest levels for tourism. According to Egyptian Tourism Ministry statistics, the number of visitors to the country in April was off by more than 35% from the same time last year.
This drop in tourism for a country similar to Greece, which is filled with historic buildings and monuments, means a drop in the revenue these important places have at their disposal. This again means less money for repair or new restoration projects, which is detrimental to the continued upkeep of these landmarks. Luckily for Egypt, nearly all of their artifacts and historical buildings went undamaged in the often-violent protests and looting that occurred.
In any country that is riddled with trouble and relies heavily on visitors for its economic stability, supporting the upkeep of important landmarks through tourism and government spending must be a priority.