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Despite expectations and Olympic boon, fewer Athens-area hotels than in 2005

By L. Karageorgos
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Despite a bevy of announcements, proposals and high-profile initiatives for new hotel investment in the greater Athens area over recent years, actual figures show a reduced number of units, especially in central Athens.

The beginning of the downturn, pinpointed in 2010, coincides with the dawn of the painful economic crisis in the country, and a little more than five years after the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

According to figures provided by the Athens-Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association, which in turn were collected by the Hotel Chamber of Greece, the total number of hotels in the greater Athens area dropped from 669 units in 2005 to 649 in 2016, a marginal but noteworthy decrease of 3 percent. The number of available rooms dropped by 4.3 percent.

The central Athens district, meanwhile, saw a decrease in the number of units from 256 in 2005 to 226 in 2016, while the number of rooms fell by 9.1 percent, totaling nearly 15,000 rooms last year.

In commenting on the figures, the president of the first association, which represents hotel owners in the greater Athens area, said the reduction in units dampens expectations for the tourism industry in the Greek capital and near-Athens destinations.

Alexandros Vassilikos said many of his colleagues increased investment based on the prospect of greater tourist flows to Athens, particularly after the fillip that was entailed with the 2004 Olympics – what tourism professionals hoped would be similar to the “Barcelona effect”, which firmly planted the Catalonian city on the international tourism map.