Huge price rises hit bookings at Athens hotels

16 August 2004
Huge price rises hit bookings at Athens hotels

Empty bedrooms and striking workers are causing major concerns for hotel managers in Athens as the Olympic Games gets under way in the Greek capital.

However, hoteliers could blame themselves for low bookings in the city following extravagant price hikes - some more than 1,000% - which have led to reports that 10% of the capital's 60,000 hotel rooms remain empty.

"The prices here are crazy at the moment," said one industry source.

Official figures suggest that visitors to Greece are down by 10% on last summer because of safety fears, a strong euro and high prices. However, Panos Arygyros, director of the Greek National Tourist Organisation in London, pointed out that prices had now been lowered.

The Athens Holiday Inn reduced its rate from over £1,200 a night last month to £800, and others are following suit. Some travel operators are now offering 20% discounts on the price of flights and hotel accommodation.

Adding to hoteliers' woes is the threat of further strike action by Greek hotel workers. A one-day strike was called last week by SYXEAP, the hotel employees association for Greater Athens, after negotiations broke down over a pay rise, and a one-off Olympics bonus to match similar payments for police and security staff.

Greek hotel workers - who earn as little as €487 (£325) a month, making them some of the lowest paid in Europe - have cancelled August holiday plans to support their country's bid to make the games a success.

SYXEAP refused the offer of a 6% increase, demanding basic pay to be doubled, and led a demonstration through the capital on 4 August. But the hotel companies dismissed the strike as unimportant, saying only a small percentage of workers were involved.

Hoteliers hope that an eleventh-hour offer of a bonus amounting to one-third of the basic gross wage - about €250 (£167) - will be enough to avert further action.

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 12 August 2004

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