NEWS

Athens mess prompts suit

The owner of a hotel in central Athens yesterday became the first businessman in the area to declare his intention to sue the state and the City of Athens for loss of earnings due to rising crime and lawlessness in the center of the capital. Alexandros Arapakis, the hotelier who plans to take legal action, is also vice president of the Athens Hoteliers Association and his lawyer Constantinos Kopanas said that at least one more hotel owner is also set to file a suit. «The businessman is resorting to this action because he has suffered major financial losses as a result of the situation in the city, both with regard to the immigrants and the drug addicts,» Kopanas told Skai Radio. Arapakis claims that he has suffered losses over the past two years that amount to almost 1 million euros as a result of cancellations by tour operators and visitors who are unhappy with the lack of safety in the area. It is not clear how Arapakis will distinguish these losses from those suffered by most hoteliers in Athens mainly as a result of the economic crisis. Last month his association announced that total revenues per room were down 20.8 percent in the first five months of 2009 compared to the previous year. It added that average room rates had dropped by 5.1 percent in the same period, while hotel room occupancy fell by 16.6 percent. Business owners have been complaining for several months about the hygiene and safety levels in the city center. Arapakis claims that he had asked the police to intervene many times to remove addicts, who he said often injected drugs on the doorstep of his hotel, but that authorities never responded. In recent months, police have removed dozens of undocumented migrants from the area and authorities hope that the imminent removal of the methadone center run by the state-run Organization Against Drugs (OKANA) will also lead to fewer addicts frequenting the city center. The president of the Athens Hoteliers Association, Yiannis Retsos, adopted a more conciliatory stance, telling Kathimerini that he is waiting to see the impact of the latest measures.