Greek Travel News
Athens Hilton employees went on strike on Monday 17 January to protest the sudden decision by owners Ioniki Xenodoheiaki, majority controlled by TEMES since 2019, to shut down the hotel at the end of January 2022, for a major 3 year refurbishment. The 350 employees have been offered a choice of two redundancy packages but they consider both grossly inadequate. They also accuse new owners Temes of using the refurbishment as a convenient way to get rid of old employees and hire new ones according to the flexible labour legislation recently introduced by the Mitsotakis government. The refurbishment plans include a part-conversion into private residences, construction of new restaurants, and a name change into Athens Conrad.
Για την εξυπηρέτηση των τουριστικών εγκαταστάσεων, "θα επιτρέπεται διάνοιξη οδών και σε δημόσια δάση και δασικές εκτάσεις καθώς και σε χορτολιβαδικές, βραχώδεις ή πετρώδεις εκτάσεις των ημιορεινών, ορεινών και ανώμαλων εδαφών." Επίσης, στο υπό ψήφιση νομοσχέδιο προβλέπεται ότι οι προς πώληση ή εκμίσθωση τουριστικές κατοικίες θα μπορούν στο εξής να καταλαμβάνουν, υπό προυποθέσεις, έως και το 50% (αντί 30% μέχρι σήμερα) της δομημένης επιφάνειας ενός σύνθετου τουριστικού καταλύματος.
According to the Hotel Athens Melia Employees Committee in early December 2021 they were informed by the Hotel Manager of imminent layoffs, despite the fact that all employees are part of the "Syn-ergasia" programme which explicitly protects employees from layoffs. The Management subsequently fired two workers and is trying to convince others to leave citing a drop in business. Syn-ergasia is a special Pandemic-era state support programme that covers 60% of the wage and insurance contributions of hotel workers. A number of hotel unions from other large hotels in Athens, including the Athens Marriott Employees Union, have issued declarations of support to the strikers.
Residents and environmental organizations have tried for many years to stop a large tourism development on the picturesque Koumbara-Diakofto peninsula, that becomes a small island during winter months, one of a few remaining pristine landscapes on touristy Ios island until recently. The project was initially approved by the New Democracy (Samaras) administration in August 2014, while in late 2015, the Syriza-led government also approved the exclusive use of the beach by the development, causing a mini-crisis with their junior coalition partner Ecologists-Greens. A Council of State ruling in 2016 succeeded in stopping most of the works. The project was deemed a strategic investment by the New Democracy (Mitsotakis) administration in July 2020 in an effort to unlock it. Now, Efimerida Syntakton reports that a three-member court in Naxos, has ruled in December 2021 that the development has indeed violated environmental laws, mainly in relation to a cement (rather than wooden) bridge connecting the peninsula and sentenced the owner of 105 S.A. to a 16-month suspended sentence. It may be an ethical victory against uncontrolled tourism development but in reality there is little reason for residents and environmentalists to rejoice: the development has not been deemed illegal per se, and it will stay in place. Some constructions and the bridge may have to be redesigned or rebuilt, while the developer, a Greek-American ex-Wall Street investor, who controls many other developments on Ios and reportedly now owns up to 30% of the island through various shell companies (owning hotels, bars and restaurants) after a long series of land purchases since 2010 during the Greek Economic Crisis, will most certainly appeal.
"This is Athens", the official tourist guide of Athens in collaboration with the non-profit organization "With other eyes" have mapped a total of 8 tracks in the capital, four aimed at people with mobility disabilities and four at people with visual impairments. The routes, explained in English and Greek, are presented on an interactive map, which shows possible obstacles, as well as how to avoid them. The aim was to combine the most possible points of interest in the city with the fewest obstacles along the way.
The exhibition "highlights the obscured perspective of reality caused by the constant state of flux we are experiencing in our society now" and also focuses on changes in Athens itself, "as a rising metropolis located at the intersection of Europe, Asia and Africa both physically and historically." Seeking to "assess the implications of identity, history, and cultural complexity" the 7th Athens Biennale highlights works of artists from the African Diaspora, Queer and other artistic voices that have historically been marginalised, with the aim of encouraging the viewers' imagination of potential parallel worlds and futures, platforming ideas such as co-existence, "radical care", "interspecies friendship" and "sonic viewing", with references to the pandemic social-distancing and isolation, while challenging oppressive mechanisms and "outdated idealism". It deploys various immersive techniques such as real game play, radical gossip, persuasive realities, "emotional hypnosis", bodying, synthesis, and visualization.
Among many striking installations one notes Christoph Draeger's "Black September", a detailed restaging of the kidnapping, execution and massacre of the Israeli Olympic team by members of the terrorist group Black September at the XX Olympiad in Munich 1972, Navine G. Khan-Dossos's "Nea Xysta" art installation, inspired by Chios island's Xysta decorative wall art tradition, and Simon Denny's "The Extractor" board game, which criticizes data-mining and surveillance Capitalism.
ECLIPSE offers a unique opportunity to visit the three neighbouring landmark "ghost" buildings in the historic centre of Athens where it is housed: the Former Department Store Fokas, shut down by the economic crisis, the Former "Santaroza" Courthouse in Justice Square (built in 1830, the first public building in Athens after national independence, originally the royal printing house, sealed since 1986), and Schliemann-Mella Hall, a grand, neo-baroque 5-level building of the 1890s, which although abandoned, still houses "Ideal" Athens' oldest cinema and the largest with 2,000 seats when it first opened in 1922. It is also possible and highly recommended to book a guided tour with Bienalle's art experts while there are live performances detailed in the official programme.
The 7th Athens Biennale is co-financed by the Hellenic Republic and the European Union through the Regional Operational Programme of "Attica" in the framework of NSRF 2014-2020, performs under the auspices of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the City of Athens and is realised in partnership with Onassis Culture of The Onassis Foundation.
For more information visit eclipse.athensbiennale.org/en
POEET the Greek Federation of Food and Tourism Employees announced that its members will go on a 24 hour strike on 9 November 2021 to protest patchy unemployment benefit and inadequate social insurance cover issues which are related to the pandemic lockdown of 2020 and early 2021. Around 11% of Greeks work in the Accommodation and Restaurant sectors and around 25% work directly or indirectly in Tourism & Leisure.
The National EuroVelo Coordination Center Greece will operate on the basis of a memorandum of cooperation between the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, the Ministry of Tourism, the Central Union of Greek Municipalities and the NGO "Poleis gia Podilato" (Cities for Cycling). The centre will research and coordinate the further development of Greek cycling routes. Currently there are three European cycling routes that include Greece: EV8 (Mediterranean Route, Cadiz to Athens), EV11 (East Europe Route, Norway to Athens) and EV13 (Iron Curtain Trail, Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea via Central and Eastern Macedonia and Thrace).
The race was organized by the Natural History Museum of the Petrified Forest with the support of the Lesvos Cycling Association and the participation of world-renowned veteran cyclist Dror Pekatch. There was a separate race for electric mountain bikes. The action was supported by the EU Horizon 2020 programme.
According to new law 4819/2021, effective from January 1, 2022, hotels with more than 100 beds will be obliged to implement procedures so as to avoid food waste and register any food waste produced on a new online platform. The law incorporates an EU Directive and also establishes tax incentives for food donations. The hotels should also organize the separate collection of packaging waste, at least plastic packaging, in each room. Given that the majority of Greek Hotels are under 100 beds, the measure will only have a limited effect at best. It is unclear if the platform will be accessible by the public so as to be able to check the environmental performance of the hotels.
Plaka Bridge in Epirus, built in 1866 over the river Arachthos, is one of the largest single arched stone-bridges in Southern Europe, and a key entry point to Greece until 1913. The bridge, a historical monument, collapsed after heavy rainfall in February 2015 due to foundations erosion. Under the guidance of famed restoration Architect Manolis Korres, a 6 year reconstruction project, first of its kind in Greece, was successfully completed using natural, traditional materials and construction methods. The reconstruction team won a Europa Nostra award with the ceremony taking place on October 2, 2021.
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