Greeks look to the heavens for tourism boost

Tourism service provider Travel Plan has signed an agreement with the Archdiocese of Athens in a bid to promote the capital?s spiritual side to visitors and boost the region?s ailing tourism industry.

Travel Plan said in a statement that the agreement with the Athens Archdiocese charity group Apostoli will aim at promoting tours of ?yzantine and Orthodox monuments in the Greek capital to worshippers from abroad.

?With tourism as our weapon, we will try to bring together culture, tourism and Orthodoxy and to open the doors of history,? said Travel Plan?s managing director Giorgos Daskalakis.

With Greece’s vital tourism sector having seen a slide in revenues over the last few years, Athens has been hard hit due to occasionally violent demonstrations and its run-down city center scaring off tourists.

According to the Athens-Attica Hotel Association, occupancy rates in the capital have been falling in the last three years but a rebound is expected in 2011.

Data provided by the group showed that occupancy rates for five-star hotels in Athens fell to 54.9 percent in 2010 from 57 percent in 2009 and 64.3 percent in 2008. Occupancy rates for three-star hotels also dropped, to 64.6 percent last year from 74.7 percent in 2008.

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