The number of tourists expected to spend a night in the Greek capital this year may rise from 2009 levels but visitors are likely to cut back on spending after last year’s slide in tourism receipts, the Athens-Attica Hotel Association said yesterday. The hoteliers’ group said that initial signs point to a marginal increase in expected occupancy rates in 2010 which will be combined with a reduction in average room rates, leading to a drop in income. «As of May we will be able to have a better estimate,» the association’s president, Yiannis Retsos, told reporters. For 2009, hotels in the greater area of the capital saw occupancy rates fall on a yearly basis by 10.2 percent, with the drop steepest among more expensive five- and four-star hotels. The overall sector saw receipts fall 17.6 percent on an annual basis in a poor year that will have a negative impact on the country’s labor market. According to the association, the possible loss of jobs at Attica hotels arising from last year’s slump could range from 3,580 to 3,750 positions, a figure that corresponds to around 25 percent of total employees in the sector. Turning to press reports speculating that the government will increase value-added tax by 2 percent to help solve the country’s fiscal problems, Retsos said such a move would be «catastrophic» for the sector at a time when other European states are lowering VAT rates in tourism.