July 19, 2007

Greeks call off strike

Posted at 1:00 pm in Acropolis

It appears that I was not the only one thinking about the detrimental effects of the planned strikes by guards at Greek archaeological sites.

International Herald Tribune

Guards call off 4-day Acropolis strike
The Associated Press
Published: July 18, 2007

ATHENS, Greece: Acropolis guards on Wednesday called off a four-day strike after tour operators warned that repeated closures of Greece’s iconic tourist destination were damaging the country’s tourist industry.

Hundreds of tourists were turned away from the Acropolis last weekend when guards walked off the job for two days, with many visitors resorting to snapping pictures of the Parthenon monument from a nearby hill. The guards, demanding salary bonuses and job guarantees, had planned to hold a four-day strike starting Saturday.

But the guards’ union called off the strike after talks with the government.

“The Culture Ministry agreed to consider two of our demands … so we have suspended our action,” Elsa Kestalidou, a member of the Panhellenic Association of Guards at Archaeological Sites, told The Associated Press.

Culture Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

Tourism industry groups had warned that shutting the Acropolis at the height of the tourist season could be devastating to Greece’s image abroad.

“It’s not difficult to understand that events like these have a detrimental effect on Greece’s tourism and on the credibility of our country as a whole,” tourism industry group SETE said in a letter sent to the culture and tourism ministers urging them to intervene.

The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies said tourists had already been forced to change their plans for Athens because of the strikes.

“Bookings have already been canceled because of the problem and it is possible, if a solution is not found, that there will be mass cancellations of (tour) packages,” the association said earlier this week.

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