ECONOMY

Athens hotels stuck in a rut

Hotels in Athens appear to be stuck in a rut as the majority of hotels reported January occupancy rates unchanged from the same month a year ago, according to statistics released by the Athens Hotel Association. AHA’s February newsletter published yesterday showed that the capital’s hotels are still struggling to recover from the slump brought on by the September 11 attacks. A general economic slowdown and rising geopolitical tension have also hampered chances of a recovery. Athens’s woes are symptomatic of the malaise gripping the European hotel industry. Credit rating agency Moody’s, in an industry outlook report last month, predicted a slow return to recovery after 2005. Luxury hotels had an occupancy rate of 36 percent in January against 34.55 percent in the same month last year, AHA said. The situation remained little changed for first-class and category C hotels, with the occupancy rates coming out to 47.8 percent and 38.9 percent respectively. The surprise was in B category hotels which saw their occupancy rate jump to 51 percent from 39.7 percent a year ago. Category E accommodations also improved their occupancy rate to nearly 20 percent from 14.7 percent a year ago. Bucking the trend, category D hotels said their occupancy rate came out to just 15.1 percent, down from 23.5 percent. The Association of Greek Enterprises (SETE) meanwhile yesterday urged the government to market Greece as a safe destination. Greece should boost its advertising campaign by doubling the budget to 23 million euros. SETE also warned tourist agencies not to cut prices to attract business, as this would set a bad example for the future.