Police Called to Tackle Greece ‘Bedbug Hoaxers’ Targeting Tourists in Athens
The Greek health ministry is asking the police for assistance in dealing with “bedbug hoaxers” who are spreading false information about bedbug crises in Athens short-term rental flats.
Posters with fake logos from the ministry and Athens municipality were found in the city center, aiming to scare tourists, but the ministry has clarified that these claims are entirely untrue.
The posters, written in English and directed to “dear visitors,” falsely stated that health authorities had mandated the evacuation of local “private guesthouses” to safeguard the health of permanent Greek tenants.
The hoax involved false claims of a bedbug problem, threatening tourists with a fine if they didn’t leave their accommodations, though no such issue existed. This situation sheds light on Greece’s housing challenges, notably in places like Athens, where short-term rentals, popular among tourists, add to housing problems amid broader cost-of-living concerns.
The rise in short-term rentals has driven up long-term rental prices in Athens, making it unaffordable for many locals to live in central areas. Additionally, property values are escalating, partly because of a “golden visa” program attracting foreign property investors by offering residence benefits.
Tourism plays a vital role in Greece’s economy, contributing significantly to its annual output, with projections for 2023 indicating record-breaking visitor numbers.
The health ministry has directed the police to take action against the hoax, emphasizing that no one should spread fear or misinformation regarding public health matters.
Bedbugs pose health risks, causing skin reactions like itching and swelling. They can trigger anxiety, disrupt sleep, and impact mental health. While they don’t transmit diseases, scratching bites can lead to infections. Eradicating them is costly, and the stigma can cause social isolation. Swift action is crucial to minimize these risks and prevent their spread.