Extra staff deployed to guard Greeces cultural gems

June 23rd, 2008 - 1:35 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 23 (ANI): The Greek government has dispatched extra staff to guard the great cultural antiques of Greece, in a response to the criticism that it has faced of the handling of its national treasures at museums and archaeological sites.

According to a report in The Guardian, tour guides, travel companies and tourists have expressed their irritation with the conditions at prime archaeological sites in Greece.

The situation at museums and sites around the country is bad, the culture minister, Michalis Liapis, conceded in parliament last week. It has to be corrected, he added.

In lie of the current situation, the ruling conservatives last week rushed hundreds of additional personnel to staff museums and open-air antiquities.

The move follows revelations over the upkeep of Greeces ancient wonders and mounting public opinions, voiced mostly by foreigners in the local press, over visitor access to them.

The situation is so bad that one local newspaper disclosed that the Cycladic isle of Delos - the site of Apollos mythological sanctuary and one of Greeces most important ancient venues - resembled an archaeological rubbish dump.

As for the issue regarding visitor access to the sites, it emerged recently that many sites, including Delphi, Mycenae and the spectacular Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri on the popular island of Santorini, were only partially open or permanently closed.

In an effort to stem the criticism, the conservatives last week ordered that opening hours be extended at museums and sites nationwide.

Following the timetable of civil servants, sites had opened at 8am and closed by 3pm, denying thousands of tourists, especially those on cruise ships, the chance to see them.

Although welcomed by tour guides and operators who have likewise been besieged with complaints by visitors having to cram in sites in record time, the governments decision to extend opening hours until 7pm has also been met with scepticism by the tourist industry.

The vast majority of people want to visit these sites during the pre- and post-peak seasons and not during the searingly hot summer months when our clientele want to go to the beach, said Rosy Agianozoglou, a hotelier on the Saronic isle of Agistri. (ANI)

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