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Expensive image hurting Greece tourism

Greece’s image as an expensive holiday destination is driving visitors away, deflating hopes of a tourism boom on the back of the Olympic Games, a Greek tourism body quoted by Reuters said yesterday.

"The picture of an expensive destination . . . has led to a drop in arrivals," Stavros Andreadis, head of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises (SETE) said at the body's annual meeting. He did not give figures for the drop in tourist arrivals.

Last month, the head of the country's tourism authority EOT said some hotels were raising prices by seven to eight times in a bid to cash in on August's Olympic Games.

While around 90 percent of the capital's hotel rooms have been pledged to games organizers ATHOC at fixed rates, tourism professionals said the remaining hotels were seeking short-term gains with exorbitant price rises.

Security worries and delays in construction projects have also reduced the likelihood of the Games being the catalyst that will turn the Greek tourism industry around after several years of decline.

With two months to go until the Games start on August 13, lower-than-expected ticket sales hint that interest for the event is lower than organizers hoped.

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