Athenians plan to flee in August

Nearly half of the 4 million-odd residents of Athens are planning to be out of town during the August Olympics, according to research published yesterday. At the same time, according to a study conducted by Kapa Research pollsters and presented at the Tourist Panorama 2004 fair that opened on Thursday in Piraeus, an estimated 1 million visitors are expected in the capital for the Games. Some 45.1 percent of the Athenians polled said they planned to go on holiday in August, while 41.5 percent said they would stay in town and 10.6 percent remained undecided. The majority of the city’s civil servants have been forbidden from taking holidays during the August 13-29 Games. Meanwhile, hotel officials said yesterday that 90 percent of all hotel rooms in Athens and its environs were booked by the Athens 2004 organizing committee three years ago. A private home rental program for visitors during the Games has failed to take off. According to travel agents, foreign holiday bookings in Greece for this year are 17-20 percent lower than in 2003.

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