Athens is dear but cheerful, says poll

Tourists visiting Athens feel safe and describe local residents as being friendly, but many frown at the lack of cleanliness of the city’s streets and the price tag attached to their visit, according to two surveys released yesterday. The first of the two studies, both commissioned by the City of Athens and the Region of Attica, showed that although a large proportion of visitors were happy with the value of hotel services, restaurants were considered by many to be good but pricey. «It is not possible for a cup of coffee in (the rest of) Europe to cost 1.50 euros while in Athens it reaches 4 euros,» said Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis. Athens had been sidestepped by a large number of tourists coming to Greece for many years as they directly headed to the islands. Industry sources say that the Olympic Games last year helped to improve the image of the city that now draws visitors on its own merits. Tourists from Britain, an important source of visitors for Greece, placed Athens’s quality of life in position No. 22 in the survey, on a global basis. However as an attractive tourist destination, the city was ranked at No. 8 in the world. In the second survey, taken at Athens Airport in October, some 90 percent of 2,000 people questioned replied that they had found residents friendly and that they felt safe. Most were satisfied with the public transport the city had to offer but 56 percent said taxis were expensive.