OPINION

Image of city is everything

Recent data predicting a sizable drop in the number of tourists who will be visiting Athens this summer are a great cause for concern. The drop in arrivals, however, cannot be wholly attributed to the international economic crisis. The riots of last December – instigated by a policeman’s fatal shooting of a teenage boy in central Athens and leading to rampages that turned the city into a war zone, images of which were broadcast all around the world – in addition to the fact that many parts in the center of the capital have been allowed to turn into ghettos and crime hot-spots, have all acted as deterrents to the foreign visitor. Add to these factors the constant problems in the operation of some of the city’s major archaeological sites and foreigners will think twice about choosing Athens as a destination. Athens in 2009 hardly resembles the much promising city it was transformed into when it hosted the Olympic Games in 2004. Isn’t it time for everyone, both the authorities and citizens of this city, to get together and help maintain its image as a prime tourist destination.