British Newspaper Cancels Poverty Tourism Tour of Greece

Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Spata, near Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

After an outcry, the noted British newspaper The Guardian, which provides extensive coverage about Greece and its economic and austerity crisis, has canceled what critics called a “poverty tourism” tour of the country.

The Guardian called the venture an “educational and informative tour of modern Greece” which had sought to offer tours to tourists wanting to learn more about the impact of the financial crisis that has devastated many Greeks since it began in 2010.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Guardian, Mel Tompkins, said the planned initiative, in cooperation with the company Political Tours, had been “aimed at people who wanted a deeper understanding of the country’s political and social landscape” but was canceled following the reactions.

“We have now canceled this project and apologize for the offense caused,” Tompkins said. “The Guardian remains committed to our independent reporting of Greece and always will be,” adding that “this was an initiative led by a commercial team and not by our journalists.”

The paper has provided some of the best and most in-depth coverage of the crisis with features on its impact on ordinary people, workers, and pensioners as well as the financial implications wrought by generations of Greek governments nearly breaking the budget.

The $3500 tour was widely ripped as being insensitive and was called by the paper as Greece and the Euro and featured an advertisement since taken down, offering the “chance to meet local families and discover how their lives have been affected by the financial crisis,” over the last eight years.

“Explore the financial crisis in microcosm through one Athens suburb and the charities and municipalities supporting people through austerity,” it stated, explaining that the trip was organized in cooperation with the Political Tours travel agency, said Al Jazeera.

The Guardian’s trip would also take travellers to meet a local NGO, Greek politicians and aid agencies who work with refugees and migrants on the island of Samos.

“The Guardian remains committed to our independent reporting of Greece and always will be,” Tompkins said in the apology, explaining that the initiative was “led by a commercial team and not by our journalists”.