Greece's Archaeological Tourism Industry Under Threat

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An angry tourist, sun hat on head and camera dangling from neck, stood in the middle of the open-top double-decker tour bus, hands outstretched in a 'thumbs down' sign.

In this photo taken Thursday June 10, 2010 a Japanese child is seen in front of the ancient...
About two dozen striking Greeks were blocking a main avenue in front of parliament, forcing the driver to maneuver awkwardly and deprive visitors of their drive-by photos.

It's scenes such as these — road closures, strikes shutting down archaeological sites, the blockading of the main port of Piraeus turning away thousands of cruise passengers — that have horrified people in Greece's vital tourism industry as the country struggles to emerge from a vicious debt crisis that brought it to the brink of bankruptcy.

"It's like we're poking out our own eyes. These things get around, they create a bad image," said Anna Anifanti, director of the Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies, or HATTA.

Greek workers have responded to government-imposed austerity measures that cut salaries and pensions with repeated strikes and sometimes violent demonstrations. With the summer season barely under way, images of flaming buildings and riots in Athens — where three people died trapped in a burning bank in May — took an early toll, leading to the cancellation of about 20,000 overnight hotel stays in the capital and nearby resorts....

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