Lid stays on Olympic prices

The Olympic Games will not serve as an instrument for profiteering or market distortions, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos said yesterday. Speaking at a press briefing at the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), he said that in order to thwart any tendencies on the part of middlemen and foreign tour operators to put up prices for short trips during the Games next August, the ministry would introduce a «clear framework» that aimed to promote stability of prices in Greece itself. «Pricing in Germany, for instance, cannot be controlled but there will be cooperation with Athens 2004 (the organizers) and tour operators to control the relevant processes here,» he said. One of the available tools in this effort would be to advertise domestic service prices in foreign markets. His statement came after the Consumers Institute (INKA) warned of dangers of extensive profiteering during the Games that would irreparably expose the country and put up the cost of living for Greeks themselves, who «will have to pay like tourists.» INKA said that accommodation package prices during the events have been rising for some time and are now between five and seven times more expensive than normally. It said it would expand its Tourist Protection service and information center especially for the Olympics. Separately, the Attica Hoteliers Association said its members’ prices remained among the lowest among metropolitan European destinations and did not understand Tsochadzopoulos’s intention to adopt extra measures given the already existing regulations. Tsochadzopoulos noted that GNTO inspections of Olympic accommodation rentals were somewhat behind schedule due to a delay on the part of the consortium managing the scheme in submitting the contracts it has signed with residential owners; a new deadline has been set for the consortium to complete submission by February 14.