ECONOMY

Greek hotels feeling the crisis pinch

The outlook is bleak for Greece?s hotel sector this year, especially given the negative expectations regarding how the summer season will turn out.

According to the president of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Giorgos Tsakiris, around 10 percent of hotel owners have made public their intention to sell their units through real estate agents, specialized websites and other investment channels, meaning that some 1,000 hotels around the country are expected to be put up for sale in the near future.

Tsakiris notes that the economic crisis and reduced liquidity in the market has exacerbated the phenomenon of hoteliers opting to close down rather than keep fighting, though the very same factors have resulted in buyers being very hard to come by, even though the average asking price for hotels has dropped by 10 percent.

In Attica, the owners of at least 50 hotels have said that they are looking for a buyer. One of the country?s biggest real estate firms, meanwhile, currently holds a portfolio of 22 hotels in Attica, whose asking prices total 290.6 million euros. Of these 22 units, 11 are in central Athens with four in and around Omonia Square, three in Patissia, and one each in Syntagma, Plaka and Psyrri. The highest price being asked is 95 million euros for a 385-room unit near Omonia Square.

In central Athens, hotel occupancy rates have also suffered as a result of recent rioting and frequent strikes, which have not only hit reservations but have also all but frozen the conference sector. According to the head of the international Congress Rental Network (CRN), Panayiotis Podimatas, 16 conferences and corporate trips around the country have already been canceled since the beginning of the year due to concerns about strikes and protests.

Among the conferences that were to take place at one five-star hotel in Athens but have been canceled were gatherings organized by Microsoft, Honeywell and Siemens; the latter decided to move the location of its conference to Turkey.

The crisis has also taken a toll on the hotel sector in Thessaloniki, with the head of the association of hoteliers there, Aristotelis Thomopoulos, saying that the number of units that are up for sale currently stands at 18.