A gradual return to pre-pandemic figures shows the first data from the Hellenic Organization of Cultural Resources Development (H.O.C.RE.D.) related to visits to Greece’s museums and archaeological sites during the first months of summer 2022. The improvement has been more evident at archaeological sites than museums, probably due to an ongoing collective reluctance to visit indoor sites because of anti-Covid precautions.
Examples of a healthy “recovery” can be seen via June figures for visits at Greece’s two most popular sites: in June, visits to the Acropolis reached 87% in comparison to pre-pandemic levels in 2019 (360,272 visitors vs. 416,948) and Knossos at 88% (108,710 vs. 123,511).
In contrast, the recently renovated Heraklion Museum, despite being in a geographical area with high tourist traffic, reached only 73% of visits in relation to 2019 (46,288 vs. 63,334).
On a more general note, it could be said that this year’s total resumption of tourism is fortifying the revenue of museums and archaeological sites. Wherever tourism is doing especially well, they are performing even better than in 2019. Two typical examples are Delos (5% more visits this year) and Spinalonga (10% more).
The figures are equally encouraging for July: in the first twenty days of the month, the Acropolis received 278,893 visitors, while the whole of July 2019 recorded the sale of 460,807 tickets.
The National Archaeological Museum is emerging as a weak link. It is noteworthy that by July 20, only 1,711 tickets were sold. This is less than the number of tickets sold for the Library of Hadrian (1,776) and the Ancient Agora (3,925).
Commenting on this year’s numbers, Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni underlined to newspaper Kathimerini’s “K” magazine that since 2019, and especially during the pandemic, systematic efforts were made by the ministry to upgrade visitor services.
“The most prominent project is the universal accessibility to the Acropolis, with the installation of the new lift, the creation of friendly routes and new lighting,” she said. “But the accessibility program, which is a priority for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is being carried out in parallel in many areas, with new dynamic interventions underway.”
The minister also referred to the expansion of an electronic ticketing system to make it easier for visitors to enter sights and other cultural spots. “It’s already operating at the Acropolis of Lindos, the Palace of the Grand Master in Rhodes, the Asklepion of Kos, the Cape of Thera, the archaeological site and the Museum of Ancient Olympia. Thus, waiting time is reduced and the visitor, especially people aged over 65, are not inconvenienced. In addition, the stalls with products for sale have been reorganized and refreshment stands have been upgraded.
“Creating an environment that respects both our monuments and visitors is a key priority for the Ministry of Culture. Our goal is to respect the visitor and provide unique experiences while also enhancing the development potential of our cultural resources.”
This article was previously published in Greek at kathimerini.gr.