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Greek museums to stay open longer

- by Dabs Banner

Greek culture lovers get more time to tour museums and archaeological sites this year as the decision is made to stay open longer.

A total of 46 major museums and sites will stay open 12 hours daily from April 1st this year to meet the growing demand from tourist visitors.

The museums and sites that will stay open longer will be selected according to their popularity based on visitor figures.

The selected museums will open from 8am to 8pm to allow visitors plenty of time to tour the historic sites and the bigger state-run museums.

The move follows the success of a decision by the previous Greek government to extend the opening hours at 33 museums and historic sites across Greece and the Greek Islands last year.

Popular sites like the recently reopened Archaeological Site of Akrotiri, on Santorini, saw revenue from receipts double with a similar rise in ticket sales at the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion on Crete, the White Tower at Thessaloniki and the Acropolis of Ialyssos on Rhodes.

Museums in Athens also saw receipts rise substantially with the Byzantine and Christian Museum recording a 69% rise in revenues, the National Archaeological Museum up 24%, and ticket sales to historic Athens' city centre sites such as the Acropolis up 17%.

Overall, there was a recorded 24% rise in visitors at the major sites in the 2014 period January to September 2014, according to official figures.

Data collected from the centres showed a total of 8,947,790 visitors in the first nine months of 2014 compared to 7,242,322 in 2013 with revenues from the same period up 16.73% to around €5.6 million.

The latest decision also comes on top of a pledge by Greek tourism officials to set a target of 25 million holiday visitors to Greece and the Greek Islands in 2015.

The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) is confident it can hit the 25 million mark and set yet another record for Greek holiday visitor numbers.

SETE was told that airline seat capacity to Greek airports this year has already risen by one million compared to 2014.

With a new government now in office and fears of a Greek exit from the European Union averted for the moment, tourist leaders hope that bookings for Greek Island holidays will take off.

Easter celebrations start on April 5 this year, a date which traditionally marks the start of the holiday season in Greece and Easter is is expected to bring a major influx of tourists to Greece.