ECONOMY

Hotel prices boost Athens tourism

Hotel rates in Athens are entirely in line with the cost of living, unlike in other European city-destinations, according to data by the Attica Hotel Association (EXA). The cost of living in Athens does not deter visitors at all. In fact, in other cities, such as Paris, hotel rates are 105 percent higher than in the Greek capital, while the cost of living is just 31 percent higher. In Istanbul, hotel rates are 49 percent higher, but the cost of living is just 5 percent higher. EXA President Giorgos Tsakiris said hotel prices in the capital are particularly low and continue to be the main marketing tool for promoting the city’s tourism product. Despite the major steps taken in public and private infrastructure, Athens as a destination has not capitalized on its tourism potential, mainly due to the lack of organization and proper promotion of its product. Tsakiris believes that the image projected to foreigners is that of a touristic Athens, with an emphasis on a rather obsolete picture that visitors want to see anyway. «The traditional aspects of the city are known, but there is also more to see. Athens is a modern destination offering numerous options for entertainment and an excellent variety of images – from the sea, to a center for antiquities and cultural events,» said Tsakiris, noting Athens’s rich cuisine and shopping. He went on to ask for the creation of a national convention and visitors’ bureau with specialized staff, in order to coordinate the promotion of conference tourism in Greece, along with recording the trends of the international conference market. EXA has also proposed the creation of companies to promote, advertize and organize the tourism product on aa local and regional level, at the initiative of hoteliers and local firms. Finally, EXA calls for the creation of an agency to process demands for the supply of monuments, museums, installations and other special venues for conference events. The lack of timely satisfaction of such requests has often resulted in major conferences being lost by Athens, said Tsakiris. He added that a main priority for Athens should be the operation of a metropolitan conference center and said that the areas of special interest in Attica are in the south, from Palaio Faliron up to Sounion, where there are some important hotel units with excellent conference infrastructure.