ECONOMY

Hotel owners say instances of high rates ‘isolated’

The Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) yesterday said that «cases» of high charges in Athens hotels are isolated incidents. SETE further claimed that, outside Athens, hotels had reduced their prices. «As in any other large market, it is possible that extreme cases of prices will appear in the tourism sector. However, this cannot lead unthinkingly to generalizations that, while actually referring to extremely few and isolated cases, create a negative impression in Greece and abroad about Greek tourism,» SETE said in a statement. There had been reports that some Athens hotels had increased their prices up to eight times for this summer, because of the Olympic Games. «The prices of tourist services in the wider Athens area during the Olympics will be naturally higher, to the degree that this can be explained by the uniqueness of the event and the great investments made by many tourist enterprises. These rises, however, concern only (the Athens area and are in effect during the brief period the Games will be held,» SETE said, adding that, for the vast majority of foreign tourists that will visit the rest of Greece, prices will be at 2003 levels and, in several cases, even lower. Minister concurs Deputy Tourism Minister Anastassios Liaskos concurred with SETE’s position, saying that 90 percent of rooms available in the Athens area had been booked by Olympic and other officials at «reasonable» prices. The problem, said Liaskos, was with the other 10 percent of the rooms. Liaskos met yesterday with representatives of hoteliers, asking some of them to explain their pricing policies. Most replied that any price hikes were made to cover the cost of investments made to upgrade installations and services. Liaskos said the ministry will not intervene in the market but is concerned about Greece’s image. Tourism industry professionals complain that, due to a lack of proper marketing strategy, they expect the total number of visitors to Greece to decline, despite the Olympics.