ECONOMY

2004 rentals program

Athens 2004, the Olympic Games organizers, said yesterday they hope to rent out at least 3,000 private residences to visitors for the 2004 Olympics, but the expected prices may disappoint many Greeks expecting big profits. Most visitors to the 2004 Games will have to seek accommodation via private rental. Nearly all the city’s best hotel rooms, about 19,000, and several cruise ships are set aside for the «Olympic family,» which includes sports federation members and sponsors. The reason Athens has a shortage of top-end hotel rooms is that it is mostly considered a starting point for tours of the islands and not a destination for any long stay. Moreover, the city lacks a modern conference center to attract international conventions. A 1986 law, repealed only last year, prevented construction of new hotels in the Athens area. Construction of new hotels for the Games was envisaged but was adamantly opposed by the hoteliers’ lobby. «We hope the package of residences and tickets will allow many visitors from abroad and fans from different parts of Greece to share the magic of the Olympic Games and fill the stadiums,» said Spyros Capralos, an Athens 2004 executive director. Representatives of the two bank-led consortiums – one led by Alpha Bank subsidiary Alpha Real Estate, the other by EFG Eurobank Properties – overseeing the program hope to rent at least 1,500 residences each. Prices have not been finalized for the rental program, which is set to start early next year. But the projected rents may upset locals who had high hopes of making significant profits from renting their homes. The consortium officials foresee average prices of about 30 to 35 euros ($29.40 to $34.30) a day for each bedroom. But the costs for luxury accommodation near venues could be considerably higher. Property owners and Athens 2004 have also sharply criticized government plans to impose a 10 percent tax on income from the rentals. Athens 2004 has asked for a 5 percent rate, but Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis is adamant. He considers the 10 percent tax, which will be paid by the consortiums in advance, as a compromise on his original proposal of a 25 percent tax. Organizers said the Olympic rentals will start from July 10, 2004 to September 10, 2004. The duration of rental is at least three days and no more than two months.(AP, Kathimerini)