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Hotel deal for 2004 Olympic Games

Athens hoteliers have agreed to set aside 80 percent of the capital`s beds to accommodate the Olympic family during the 2004<.> Games

Athens hoteliers have agreed to set aside 80 percent of the capital`s beds to accommodate the Olympic family during the 2004<.> Games and are expected to sign a contract within July guaranteeing room availability.

Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis last week announced that the agreement between hoteliers and the Athens 2004 Organising Committee (ATHOC), which focuses on price structure, method of payment and room availability, would soon be formalised. He noted it was the first time that such a contract would be signed four years ahead of the Olympics.

Christodoulakis pointed out that the contract provided a strong incentive for hotel owners to upgrade their units, particularly since room rates will be calculated according to the category under which the establishment falls in 2004, not the present classification. Already, several major hotels such as the InterContinental have begun large-scale renovations while others have been purchased by industry leaders such as Grecotel and almost rebuilt from scratch, the Omonia Grand Hotel being one of them. As for the planned hotel star-rating system based on the international standard, Christodoulakis said it should be finalised within the year.

We want the Games to lead to what we call `pre-Olympic tourist traffic`. We hope tourists will be attracted by the various events which will be organised and that this rise in arrivals becomes permanent, he said.

The minister was joined by ATHOC chairman Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who asserted that the big winners were hoteliers and stressed that Greece appear consistent in its Games organisation.

Athens hoteliers federation chairman Spiros Divanis stated that the agreement exhibited the maturity of Greek hoteliers. Implying that the government should contribute more in this area, he said the efforts being made for the quality modernisation of hotels would not be abandoned but be supported by state infrastructure.

ATHOC, for its part, must be able to provide a guarantee for 75 percent of total bookings by January 15, 2003 at the latest. The Olympic rate will be the average of the median price charged in 2001 and 2002 with a discount of 10 percent.

Following the signing of the contract, ATHOC must provide hoteliers with a deposit for each pre-booked room while the remainder must be handed over by June 15, 2004. The deposit has been set at $350 for a luxury hotel, $250 for a five-star unit, $180 for a four-star establishment and $100 for a three-star unit.

Up until January 15, 2003 ATHOC retains the right to cancel up to 25 percent of bookings, without liability. Hoteliers who cannot provide a room as covered by the contract will be required to reimburse ATHOC with an amount equal to three times the Olympic rate for each bed.

Christodoulakis noted that government inspections of the tourism industry, which includes points of entry, archaeological sites, restaurants, hotels and other establishments and services around the country, would continue throughout the summer. He said legal action had been launched in 23 cases where quality of service was found to be substandard.

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