Arrival data from Athens International Airport (AIA) show that tourist flow to Greece’s capital is off to a good start. However, to the hoteliers’ concern, this increased traffic is not reflected in hotel bookings around the city.

Passenger traffic at AIA during the first quarter of 2024 totaled at 5,215 million, a 16.5% increase compared to the same period last year, while the number of flights amounted to 46,334, a 12.8% increase.

Nevertheless, hotel reservations in the capital do not seem to be fairing as well. Secretary-General of the Athens – Attica & Argosaronic Hotel Association Evgenios Vassilikos mentioned that this tourism surge is now distributed among the short-term rentals, which have reached 14,000 in Athens alone.

Vassilikos explained that hotel occupancy rates in Athens this year is just about the same as in 2023, despite the spike in reservations during the previous days due to the Catholic Easter holiday. According to data for the first two months of 2024, hotel occupancy reached 59.3% compared to 54.4% during the same period in 2023.

He also mentioned how hotel prices have remained almost the same since last year, despite increases in costs, which are getting harder to cover.

According to recent data from the Association, the average room rate in Athens in February 2024 was 92.58, a 3% increase from last year. This number is significantly lower than the average rate in cities like Istanbul (114.85 euros), Madrid (138.03), Paris (279.98), Barcelona (154.39) or Rome (162.57), which also record better revenue per available room (indicatively, 68.45 euros in Istanbul, 183.39 in Paris, 93.86 in Madrid, 103.13 in Barcelona and 88.93 in Rome.)

Vassilikos also touched upon the unfair competition between hotels and short-term rentals regarding climate change fees. He explained that while the specified fee for a room at a 4-star hotel is 7 euros, and 10 euros for a room in a 5-star hotel, it only amounts to 1.5 euros in short-term accommodations that can host up to 4 people and often charge higher than hotels.

Nevertheless, Vassilikos remains cautiously optimistic for this year’s season, stating that “while things are good, they could be better.”