NEWS

Hotel prices ‘50-100 pct up’

Despite a sizable drop in tourist arrivals this year, Greek hoteliers have hiked their prices by a staggering average 70-80 percent ahead of the Summer Olympics, the head of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) said yesterday. This was denied by hotel owners, who blamed increases on the failure of Athens 2004 organizers to get the private home rental program going, and on greedy foreign travel agencies. In an interview on the Travel Daily News website, GNTO Chairman Haris Kokkossis said that most increases in hotel prices ranged from 50-100 percent, though in certain cases the sums involved were seven or eight times higher than last year’s. Kokkossis urged hoteliers to show restraint, adding, however, that under free market regulations there was little scope for intervention. He said tourist arrivals had dropped 18-21 percent in the first third of this year. However, he expressed hopes that this would be offset by a rise in Olympic arrivals that would limit the annual drop in arrivals to around 8 percent. In a statement issued yesterday, the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers (POX) claimed that there was little truth in complaints that hotel owners were pushing prices up ahead of the August 13-29 Games. «This is criticism made in poor faith, from which the only people who will benefit are travel agents who are pressing for discounts in their existing contracts for summer rooms,» the statement said. POX argued that 90 percent of all hotel rooms in Attica were booked four years ago for Olympics officials at «very low» prices. «The very few remaining rooms are destined for top businessmen and high-ranking officials in multinational companies, and it is natural that they should be rented at higher prices than usual.»