Image: Acropolis
Thanassis Stavrakis  /  AP file
Tourists visit the 2,500-year-old Parthenon Temple on the Acropolis hill, in Athens. The usually busy Athens Acropolis stood idle July 14-15, after the union of guards called a 48-hour strike to demand better working conditions for personnel.
updated 7/18/2007 4:30:53 PM ET 2007-07-18T20:30:53

Acropolis guards on Wednesday called off a four-day strike after tour operators warned that repeated closures of Greece’s iconic tourist destination were damaging the country’s travel industry.

Hundreds of tourists were turned away from the Acropolis last weekend when guards walked off the job for two days, with many visitors resorting to snapping pictures of the Parthenon monument from a nearby hill. The guards, demanding salary bonuses and job guarantees, had planned to hold a four-day strike starting Saturday.

But the union called off the strike after talks with the government.

“The Culture Ministry agreed to consider two of our demands ... so we have suspended our action,” Elsa Kestalidou, a member of the Panhellenic Association of Guards at Archaeological Sites, told The Associated Press.

Culture Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

Tourism industry groups had warned that shutting the Acropolis at the height of the tourist season could be devastating.

“It’s not difficult to understand that events like these have a detrimental effect on Greece’s tourism and on the credibility of our country as a whole,” the tourism industry group SETE said in a letter to the culture and tourism ministers, urging them to intervene.

The Hellenic Association of Travel and Tourist Agencies said tourists had already been forced to change their plans for Athens because of the strikes.

“Bookings have already been canceled because of the problem and it is possible, if a solution is not found, that there will be mass cancellations of (tour) packages,” the association said earlier this week.

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