ECONOMY

Athens in for slow season

Tourism traffic in Athens will decline this season, according to estimates by the capital’s hoteliers based on occupancy rate figures for the first months of the year. The Athens Hotel Association (EXA) noted there is a great risk that this year will see a downtrend at a rate of about 6 percent both in terms of occupancy and in prices. March saw an annual decline in occupancy rates of 4.23 percent. Preliminary signals from all markets are quite discouraging. The decline from the US market may even exceed 30 percent, while markets such as those of Germany, Britain and France are showing a drop that ranges from small to medium. The only increase may come from relatively unpredictable markets, whose behavior depends on non-economic factors (such as Russia, Bulgaria etc). The association complains that the tourism product of Athens is not sufficiently supported by the appropriate specialized advertising or the essential special infrastructure projects. For example, the delay in the completion of the new conference center in Athens has taken its toll on the city’s congress tourism. EXA wants the Tourism Development Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organization to launch a special promotion of Athens as a tourism destination and help toward its better organization.