Hoteliers rue slump in tourism

As Greek hoteliers described tourism as being at its lowest ebb in 30 years and accused the government of doing nothing to help, the head of the state tourism organization yesterday said he expected an extra 1 million foreign visitors next year due to the Athens 2004 Olympics. Yiannis Patellis, head of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), said arrivals could reach 15 million in 2004, from the 14 million estimate for this year, «if there are stable international developments.» He promised that visitors would have a good time, arguing that «Greeks are the best at hosting parties,» and claimed the September Paralympics would also help boost tourism revenue. Hoteliers, who have repeatedly complained that the GNTO has not done enough to advertise Greece, and Athens in particular, as a tourist destination, said figures for September confirmed their fears. The Greek Hoteliers Association told a press conference that arrivals at the main airports had fallen between 6.6 and 15.7 percent year-on-year, while hotel occupancy has declined 10 percent.