ECONOMY

Hotels relying on last-minute bookings for Christmas

Reservations at hotels around Greece are moving sluggishly in the runup to the Christmas holiday season, though hoteliers believe that the pace will pick up in the coming week as last-minute reservations begin to come in and customers respond to announcements of special deals.

Domestic tourism has already taken a hit this year compared to 2010, with a 20 percent decrease in visitors, according to experts. ?There has been a slump in demand,? said Dinos Dafalias, president of the Association of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation of Kalavryta, who added that only 20-30 percent of hotel rooms in the popular wintertime resort have been booked to date for the Christmas holidays when in previous years by this time that figure stood at up to 90 percent. However, Dafalias is optimistic that hotels will reach 100 percent capacity at Christmas on last-minute reservations, while also noting that establishments in the area have reduced their rates by an average of 20-30 percent compared to 2010.

The head of the Association of Hoteliers of Thrace in northern Greece, Costas Hadjiconstantinou, told Kathimerini that most reservations in the area so far have been made by residents of Bulgaria and Romania, while for New Year the only bookings are from Turkey. He is hoping that sluggish domestic demand will be offset by interest from the Balkan markets, adding that room rates range from 30 to 100 euros per night.

The coastal city of Volos and and nearby Mt Pilio in Magnesia, Thessaly, have seen a fair amount of domestic bookings made for the holidays via travel agencies offering special deals for these destinations, according to Costas Leventis, of the local hoteliers association. Capacity for the holiday period has not reach 50 percent yet, he said, though he is optimistic that Greeks will respond to a freeze in rates from 2010 and opt for the region closer to the holidays. The average rate per room is 80 euros, Leventis said, adding that discounts are available for people booking before December 10.

In Florina, northern Greece, hoteliers have dropped their rates by as much as 50 percent for early reservations, according to their representative there, Thanasis Rompapas, who said that they have seen a satisfactory number of reservations so far for the winter holidays, while in the upscale ski resort of Arachova, booking capacity for Christmas has already reached 60 percent. According to the hoteliers? representative in the region, Yiannis Georgakos, rates in Arachova range from 45 to 250 euros per night.