By Stathis Kousounis
After six years of shrinking occupancy rates, Attica hotels are showing a small rebound, while the mean revenue per available room also crept up between January and August this year.
Following a period when one in seven units was forced to shut down, hotels in Attica saw a 9.1 percent increase in average occupancy in the year to end-August compared to the first eight months of 2012, Alexandros Vasilikos, the head of the Athens-Attica Hotel Association, told a press conference on Wednesday.
The mean occupancy rate stood at 59 percent this year (roughly three in every five rooms), while revenues per available room climbed by 5.9 percent year-on-year to reach 58.50 euros. That was despite a 2.1 percent decline in the average hotel price that came to 81.7 euros.
International tourism arrivals at Athens International Airport posted a marginal decline, of 0.09 percent, in the yearís first eight months, dropping to 1,823,078. Compared to 2007, the decline amounted to 25.3 percent, or 619,482 fewer arrivals.
From 2007 to 2012, the average occupancy rate fell 24.1 percent, revenues per available room dropped 36.4 percent and the average hotel room price slid 16.2 percent.
Vasilikos stressed that the small increase recorded in the last four months does not mean that units in Attica no longer face the threat of closure. In the last six years, as many as 89 hotels with a capacity of 6,872 beds have shut down in the region due to pressure created by the crisis, high operational costs, the high cost of borrowing, the destinationís constant negative publicity and reduced clientele, among other reasons.
There are currently 651 hotels operating in Attica and on the nearby islands, with 31,645 rooms and 58,837 beds.
The head of the local hoteliers also made special reference to the increase in the phenomenon of illegal accommodation for travelers in the form of houses and apartments, which has been observed across Attica and constitutes a great loss to the state in tax revenues. He added that such accommodation is illegally offered to visitors and even advertised on many international booking sites. Vasilikos called on the state to take action and record and monitor them. The fine they will have to pay is 50,000 euros, he noted, once they are identified.