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Private Home Accommodations’ Program For 2004 Underway

Olympic Games organizer Athens 2004 last month approved two bank-led consortiums, Alpha Filoxenia 2004 and Elliniki Filoxenia, which includes a company of some 100 Greek travel agents, as the official managers of the accommodation program for the 2004 Games. The two consortiums, which submitted the required letters of guarantee for 4.5 million euros, will oversee the rentals of private apartments to visiting spectators.

Initially, representatives of the two groups selected to manage the residence-leasing program put the number of private homes needed around the greater Athens area for the upcoming Summer Olympics at 10,000. But Athens 2004 said they expect each consortium to rent out about 1,500 residences each. Furthermore, International Olympic Committee officials said lower demand by 2004 sponsors could free up to 3,000 hotel rooms for Olympic visitors.

The representatives of the consortia said rental rates would begin at as low as 30 euros per bed, a net figure for prospective homeowners in the program. On average, they said, homeowners would pocket 3,000 euros a month, or at least 30-35 euros per day.

The average cost to someone renting accommodation in homes is expected to reach more than 60 euros per day.
About one-half that goes to the consortium that handles the rental. The program is expected to begin early next year.

Athens 2004 said most visitors to the 2004 Games would have to seek accommodation via private rentals as nearly all the city’s best hotel rooms, about 19,000, and most berths on the 11 cruise ships are set aside for the “Olympic family,” which includes sports federation members and sponsors.

The two joint ventures will offer the following services to home owners who intend to enter the program:
• On-site visit by a team from the contractor to assess the home so as to verify position, fulfilment of specifications, and functional level, so that a choice can be made and the appropriate rental price determined.
• Full insurance of the home with regard to the property and household effects with all-risks insurance cover. There will also be civic responsibility insurance coverage for the customer.
• Dependability and credibility in regard to drawing up the rental contract and economic safeguards for the homeowner.
• The Contractor will be fully responsible for all procedures for the flats.

Organizers said the Olympic rental periods would start from July 10 to September 10, 2004. The duration of rental is a minimum of three days and a maximum of two months.

Private accommodation is required because up until recently it was almost impossible for a business group to construct new hotels in the Athens area. A 1986 law, repealed only last year, prevented such construction. As well, although the construction of new hotels for the Games was envisaged, the hoteliers’ lobby here adamantly opposed such plans.

Meanwhile, property owners and Athens 2004 continue to sharply criticize government plans to impose a 10 percent tax on income from the rentals. Athens 2004 and the consortia have asked for a 5 percent rate, but Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis is adamant. He considers the 10 percent tax, which will be paid by the consortiums in advance, as a compromise on his original proposal of a 25 percent tax.

A subsequent release by the Greek Landlords’ Association said the rents should be tax-free, as Athenians were being asked to help out the government for the Games.

The association added that, if taxed, most landlords would resort to unofficial channels to rent their flats, which would destroy the 2004 Olympic hospitality program.

It is not entirely clear as to whether the tax is to be levied on going market rents or the revenue earned during the period in question, which will be much higher.

The general manager of games support, Vasilis Niadas, referred to the legislative adjustments of the program. Concerning the tax (10%) for the Olympic Houses, it was stressed that it will be paid by the joint ventures.

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