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ATHOC, hoteliers agree on 2004 accommodation

A deal has finally been struck between the Athens 2004<.> Organising Committee (ATHOC) and the capital`s hoteliers on accommodation for Games visitors…

A deal has finally been struck between the Athens 2004<.> Organising Committee (ATHOC) and the capital`s hoteliers on accommodation for Games visitors, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis<.> has announced.

In a meeting last week ATHOC and the Athens hoteliers union, under the auspices of the development ministry, discussed a range of significant issues concerning tourist accommodation for the duration of the Games.

Firstly, the agreement allows for the pre-booking of 80 percent of the city`s rooms specifically for Olympic visitors. Deposits will be required, namely $350 for de luxe hotels, $250 for five-star, $180 for four-star and $100 for three-star units. Ten percent of the room charge should be paid by January 15, 2002; 30% by January 15, 2003; 30% by January 15, 2004; and 15% by June 16, 2004. Cancellation fees have been set at 25% up until January 15, 2003; 45% till January 15, 2004; 85% till June 15, 2004; and 100% till June 15, 2004.

The only outstanding matter which remains to be resolved is the guaranteeing of deposit payments. Christodoulakis, who will personally formulate a proposal on this issue, asserted that 85 to 90 percent of the deal had been sealed.

2004 offers a fantastic and historic opportunity for the upgrading and strengthening of the tourism industry, he said.

Christodoulakis said the ministry was preparing an Olympic tourism package which will address several areas of the industry, including existing infrastructure and the quality of tourist services. He stated it would be a strategic policy plan aimed at expanding and improving the tourism sector.

As part of an effort to boost the profile of the annual Athens Festival ahead of the Games, Christodoulakis said that an invitation for expressions of interest in participating in next year`s series of arts and entertainment events will be issued in August. He said the government aimed to finalise the programme by early autumn – and avoid the delays of previous years – so that it could be effectively promoted abroad and draw more foreign visitors.

In other developments, Christodoulakis said a company set up by the Greek Tourism Organisation (EOT), to which all EOT properties have been transferred, will likely apply to be listed on the Athens Stock Exchange and may enter the bourse next year. In addition, he confirmed that the state-run Parnitha casino will be privatised.

EOT, on the other hand, will be relieved of the entrepreneurial duties it had undertaken in recent years. The state is not able to play the role of entrepreneur, he declared. Business activities must be carried out in a professional manner. The authority`s role will be limited to its obligations as a state body, among these acting as a watchdog of the tourism industry. This is in line with the ministry`s decentralisation policy, under which local authorities are expected to take on more responsibilities.

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