Social media users have criticised The Guardian for “insulting” the people of Greece and “making money out of misery” after the British newspaper offered a trip highlighting the impact of the financial and refugee crises in the country.
After the outcry on Wednesday, the page advertising the “Greece & the Euro” holiday was taken down from the newspaper’s website.
The week-long “educational and informative tour of modern Greece” that was advertised on The Guardian’s website came at a cost of 2,500 British pounds ($3,527), with a starting date of March 31, 2019.
— Mike (@ks_mikey) March 28, 2018
The trip, which is “exclusively designed for Guardian readers”, gives travellers “the chance to meet local families and discover how their lives have been affected by the financial crisis”, the newspaper’s website said.
“Explore the financial crisis in microcosm through one Athens suburb and the charities and municipalities supporting people through austerity,” the advertisement said of the trip, organised in partnership with the Political Tours travel company.
During the holiday, readers will also be able to discuss the refugee crisis with a local NGO, Greek officials and international agencies, The Guardian said.
Included in the seven-day itinerary from the island of Samos to Athens is the chance to meet and travel with The Guardian’s Greece correspondent, Helena Smith, the newspaper said.
In an emailed statement to Al Jazeera later on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Guardian News & Media said: “The Guardian has been working with Political Tours to provide informative trips to Greece and other countries for people who wish to develop their understanding of the political and social landscapes in these places.
“On reflection, we have now paused this project in order to reconsider our approach.”
Earlier, many Greeks and others had taken to Twitter to criticise the newspaper for cashing in on “crisis tourism in a crisis-ridden” country.
Making money out of misery, @guardian offering $3,500 tours (flights not included) "Meet local families in Athens to discover how their lives have been affected by the financial crisis." #Greece https://t.co/YIHYfyvTrX
— Teacher Dude (@teacherdude) March 28, 2018
Shame on you @guardian and @HelenaSmithGDN. You came up with the most disgusting, depreciating way to promote your so-called 'investigative' journalism. People have suffered immensely in #Greece and you try to benefit from that? You better place a paywall. pic.twitter.com/IueqyAdZp9
— Dimitris Rapidis (@rapidis) March 28, 2018
One Twitter user named Konstantina called the trip “shameful” and “offensive”.
“For 2,500 pounds you can live the refugee and financial crisis in Greece. This is offensive for the people caught in this,” she wrote.
— Konn1e (@ntina79) March 28, 2018
Others questioned the newspaper’s “ethics of journalism”.
New ethics in journalism? The @guardian is organising "holiday tours" in Greece for visitors to discover the refugee crisis, meet austerity-hit families & people in hardship. U need 3K to exercise your colonial spirit & experience our suffering https://t.co/G4Ol5cND8j #shame
— Panagiotis Vlachos (@P_Vlachos) March 28, 2018
Some called on the newspaper to offer an apology to the Greeks and refugees living in Greece.
— Melina Spathari (@Melina_Spathari) March 28, 2018
Greece has long been feeling the effects of a global financial crisis and domestic economic mismanagement.
Over the past decade, consecutive governments have introduced a series of harsh austerity measures in order to tackle the country’s crippling debt, leading to widespread public protests.
Greece is also home to tens of thousands refugees, many of whom risked their lives undertaking dangerous sea journeys to flee war-torn countries such as Syria.