Athens Sees Anti-Tourist Protests and Graffiti Amid Backlash

Locals in Athens have started anti-tourist protests amid crisis of overtourism.
Locals in Athens have started anti-tourist protests amid crisis of overtourism. Credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis. CC BY 2.0/flickr

Anti-tourist graffiti has appeared in Athens as the city joins the waves of protests that have hit Spain, calling for an end to over-tourism.

The stunning capital of Greece, home to the Parthenon, has experienced an increase in anti-tourism sentiment in the form of graffiti messages saying visitors should “go home” – not unlike the ones that have appeared in Spain in the past few weeks.

Anti-Tourism Protests in Athens

Frustrated locals took to the streets in Athens to protest over the crowds of tourists flocking to the city last month. Demonstrations over the increasing number of foreign visitors in the capital have been taking place since last year, with incidents of vandalism and arson in a few cases.

However, new anti-tourism graffiti has been sprayed onto walls across the city with one reading “Tourists Go Home! Greek State Kills”. Another graffiti message shows “Airbnb” towers in flames with the caption “Tourists Enjoy Your Stay In The Cemetery of Europe”.

Other messages saying “Tourists go home” and “No Tourists No Hipsters,” are clearly meant to get tourists thinking. It comes as demonstrators claim tourists not only add to the city’s overcrowding but they are also taking their homes.

Protesters chanted “They are taking our houses while they line in the Maldives,” as per The Sun. Local Anna Theodorakis, who was forced out of her home in Metaxourgio, Athens, told France24 at the time that the situation was becoming “very depressing”.

She said, “I think the answer is to go in the streets and block everything and just not do something because people are losing their homes.” Residents said they are worried over the rising numbers of Airbnbs over fears traditional neighborhoods will start to disappear.

“Eighty percent of this neighborhood is Airbnbs,” Dimitri, a property developer told The Sun. “Tourists who come here want to see the Greek culture, so if no more Greeks are living here, tourists won’t want to come.”

Greece saw a record-breaking 33.4 million tourists last year, with around 6.7 million of them arriving at Athens’ Eleutherios Venizelos Airport, according to the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (INSETE).

It comes as demonstrators at Spanish holiday hotspots have also been calling for measures to curb excess tourism. Thousands took to the streets in Tenerife last month to demand restrictions on holidaymakers. More than 15,000 people waved Canary Islands’ flags and blew horns to make a deafening noise in the capital Santa Cruz.

Residents have reportedly said they are “fed up” with “low quality” Brits who only come for the cheap beer, burgers and sunbathing. A spate of anti-tourist graffiti spread across the island to tell Brits they are not welcome.

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