NEWS

Low demand for Olympic rentals

Global terrorist threats and an economic downturn are being blamed for the lack of interest being shown by foreign tourists in this summer’s Athens Olympics. More than 100,000 guests a day had been forecast, but these estimates are now being reworked downward, officials admitted yesterday. Foreign demand for accommodation during the Games is so slow that organizers fear they may end up with an all-Greek audience. «Keen interest has still to materialize, we’ve just booked a few hundred homes,» Aristotelis Karytinos, an official running the Games’ private home rentals program, told AFP. «Tour operators haven’t shown any particular interest. All demand there is comes from individuals contacting us over the Internet.» Karytinos’s consortium offers over 5,000 private homes for short-term rental to visitors wishing to avoid busy hotels during the August 13-29 Games. The program was launched as a stopgap solution to boost the capital’s modest hotel capacity. «Generally, demand is downbeat. Most hotels in downtown Athens are already booked out as 90 percent of them are reserved for Games officials,» said Giorgos Tsakiris, president of the Athens Hotel Association. «But there’s a lot of spare capacity in the suburbs and no demand for it.» To make matters worse, the private homes rental program is not available to visitors who want to stay close to Athens’s classical monuments, such as the Acropolis. «Because of an incredibly silly government provision that excludes homes built before 1981 from the program, we can’t cover demand for the city center,» complained Karytinos, who was nevertheless confident of an upturn for the better. «The Athens Olympics can’t be the only Games in which people won’t want to come,» he said. (AFP)