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Tourist flock to Greek museum sites

- by Dabs Banner

Greek holidays are not just sea, sand and sun it appears. More holiday visitors than ever are flocking to museums and historic sites across Greece and the Greek Islands.

Latest figures from the Greek Culture Ministry show more visitors than ever taking a tour of historical sites such as the Acropolis Museum in Athens and the recently reopened Akrotiri site on Santorini.

Officials put the rise down to extended opening hours, lower admission prices and more sites being opened to the public this year.

The National Archaeological Museum in Athens notched up 27,510 visitors in June this year compared to 22,991 in June last year while the Acropolis Museum, one of the most popular in the world with more than one million visitors in 2013, welcomes 156,722 visitors in June compared to 137,411 last year.

On the island of Santorini, the archaeological site of Akrotiri pulled in 40,213 visitors in June, against 35,600 in the same month last year.

New sites that have opened up to the public for the first time such this year include the Archaeological Museum of Agios Kirykos on Ikaria and the Casa Romana on Kos. Extended opening hours from 8 am to 8 pm at more than 50 museums and sites in the Greek Islands have also helped push up the visitor numbers.

Festival events and concerts both on the mainland and the Greek Islands are reporting heavy demand for tickets at more than 140 advertised events across scores of archaeological sites and museums.

Visitor figures are likely to soar even further at sites across Greece when they stay open to welcome the full moon on August 29 with admission to all sites free of charge.

The news on visitor numbers some as the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies (HATTA) launches a scheme to promote Greece heavily as an all-year-round tourist attraction.

The tourist organisation has launched its 'DODEKA' action plan to promote tourist destinations in Greece for 12 months of the year, with an attraction for every month.

It invites holidaymakers to come to Greece and enjoy everything from Olympic sports and street festivals to sailing the Greek seas and walking the mountain trails of the 12 mythological gods of Mt Olympus.

Athens, Thessaloniki, Naxos, Aegina, Delos, Ancient Olympia, Dodona and Pella all feature in the action plan which also includes some less travelled destinations.

Religious tourism is also featured strongly in the DODEKA programme along with street festivals, cultural highlights and foodie attractions.