Hotels warned over Euro 96 'profiteering'

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The Independent Online

Hoteliers who have hiked up their prices to make a fast buck out of the Euro 96 soccer tournament are being investigated by the Football Association.

English officials have launched an inquiry into how hotels in cities hosting this summer's sporting event have inflated their prices - sometimes by as much as four times the "rack rates". One city centre hotel which normally charges pounds 40 for a night of bed and breakfast is reportedly asking pounds 160 for the same room - without breakfast.

Host cities - London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham and Liverpool - are expecting as many as 250,000 visitors from the 16 qualifying countries, generating up to pounds 118m in tourism revenue during the three-week tournament. But the FA fears the mega- inflationary rates will mean hoteliers prove to be the ultimate losers.

Manchester alone is expecting 50,000 visitors - but the city has only 28,000 beds. Not surprisingly, it is emerging as one of the most expensive host cities. Its Britannia Hotel is charging pounds 180 for a double room and pounds 140 for a single, compared to the published tariffs, posted at reception, of pounds 105 and pounds 75 respectively, and the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza is charging pounds 150 for a double room instead of the rack rate of pounds 120.

David Davies, the FA's director of public affairs, appealed to hoteliers to rethink. "What we are seeking is a football festival that reflects nothing but credit on this country. Frankly, hotels which exploit our guests are letting everyone down," he said yesterday.

Michele Aboody, National Accounts Manager for Manchester's Britannia Hotel, defended the hotel's decision. "As a company we fluctuate our rates depending on supply and demand, obviously."

Mr Davies said such attitudes by hotels could have a serious effect on shops, restaurants, theatres and other amenities, as visitors would not stay in the cities as long.