NEWS

Uncontrollable increases and new, binding booking requirements

Greek hoteliers seem to think of the Olympic Games as the goose that will lay the golden egg and have attached a number of new terms to their rental contracts, such as a minimum seven-days reservation, packages that force customers to accept full board and, of course, increased rates. Despite the fact that in the past few «crisis» years, domestic tourism was the Greek tourism industry’s only real safety net – because few Greeks would sacrifice their holidays even in hard times – this year, the country’s hoteliers are focusing almost exclusively on foreign tourism, regardless of whether domestic tourism can afford the new rates. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, admits Giorgos Drakopoulos, general director of the Greek Hoteliers Association, Athenian hoteliers stand to benefit the most. «We are not making reservations for individuals, only organized groups from abroad,» was the most common answer to inquiries during Kathimerini’s investigation. As far as the promised 10 percent reductions for Greek travelers are concerned, they comes as little relief since the hike in prices basically cancels out the difference. One glaring example of these price hikes is a hotel complex on the island of Kos which last summer priced its double rooms at 400 euros and this year is demanding 1,100 euros for the same facilities. Similar cases were noted throughout the country, even at less popular destinations such as Lesvos, where the price of a double room at one of the island’s hotels has gone from 65 euros in 2003 to 103 euros this year. Furthermore, there are many smaller hotels and pensions that have not issued their rates for this summer, waiting to see the general market trend. At the same time, it is doubtful whether the Development Ministry department in charge of hotel rates control is effectively curbing rising prices. On the one hand, the department does not appear to be out in full force yet, and on the other, the rise in prices has become so widespread that it appears to have shot out of control. Be that as it may, all holidaymakers are advised to make their plans and reservations well in advance and not at the last minute. Finding rooms as August draws nearer will become increasingly difficult and prices are expected to continue climbing (even for services of questionable quality), possibly turning Greeks’ desire for holidays this year into a midsummer night’s pipe dream. «If you are thinking of making a reservation you should do so by early May at the latest. Prices will skyrocket because of the Olympic Games and all reasonably priced accommodation will be snapped up fast,» was the honest response of one employee in charge of reservations at a hotel in Hania, Crete.