first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram The spiralling trafficking and use of drugs in the centre of Athens, as well as brawls among addicts and illegal immigrants, has resulted in large numbers of tourists avoiding the area and has led to a drop in hotel reservations, according to local hoteliers.“The last straw for tourists was the constant brawls between local immigrants and the drug dealers and addicts who could often be seen outside hotels,” said Alexandros Arapakis, a local hotelier. Arapakis said two foreign travel agents with whom he had business arrangements had ended their working relationship following complaints from dissatisfied visitors. “The so-called historic centre has changed and our clients no longer feel safe,” one of the travel agents noted in its letter. According to Arapakis, the impact of the area’s degeneration is not restricted to local businesses. “What bothers me more than the financial loss is the image of Athens which tourists carry back to their homes – this damage is incalculable and will take years to repair,” Arapakis said.The losses suffered by local hoteliers are significantly greater than those of hotels in other areas. According to industry analysts, hotel reservations in the historic center where nearly half of Attica’s hotel capacity is located have fallen by 25 percent.Travel agents based in the city center are also struggling with recent developments. “We have lost customers before they even get out of the cab,” local travel agent Yiannis Politis said. According to Politis, many tourists have told their taxi driver to keep driving after seeing the shady characters lurking outside their hotels.As for those tourists who do stay, travel agents feel obliged to prepare them for the worst. “We find ourselves in the unpleasant position of giving our customers two pieces of advice: Keep your bags in front of you and never take your passport with you when you go out,” Politis said.last_img read more