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Hotels to cash in on WC fever

January 10, 2006 14:36 IST

Looking for a cheap room in Germany during the World Cup? Think again.

Organisers of the month-long football tournament and the German tourist industry had promised reasonable rates but fans looking for affordable accommodation now are likely to be disappointed.

Costa Rican supporters wanting to watch their side open the tournament against hosts Germany in Munich on June 9 are among the most unlucky.

Staying at one of the city's top hotels would set you back 1,294 euros (886 pounds) per night over the weekend from June 9. The same double room costs just 167 euros next month.

Even a more modest four-star establishment is charging an overnight rate of 281 euros compared with 59 euros for the room in mid-February or mid-August.

Despite the price hikes, many hotels are already full.

Germany is expecting some one million foreigners to flood in while the football lasts. England is likely to send the largest contingent, with 100,000 people expected to head to Germany.

Its Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) is already concerned about "price gouging" and has met officials from Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Cologne, where England play their opening matches, to discuss campsite availability and emergency accommodation.


Kevin Miles, FSF's international coordinator, said a lot of hotels appeared to have raised overnight rates to the higher levels they charge when a trade fair is in town. The increase can be as much as five-fold.

"Sadly, there's a certain inevitability," he said. "The Germans have a word for it, 'Kapitalismus'. Other countries do it too. It's a factor of supply and demand."

World Cup organisers argue that they have reached deals with large chains and privately-run hotels to charge only the standard, not the trade-fair, rate.

More than 500 hotels have signed up, offering 50,000 rooms.

"These are great rates, not for example what you'd be paying in Munich during the Oktoberfest or an international fair," a spokeswoman said.

Nevertheless, a search for a twin room for the weekend of Germany's opener in Munich found only one hotel in Augsburg, 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the stadium, and one in Munich city centre, for a minimum five-night stay at a total of 2,175 euros.

The spokeswoman said more offers were likely to emerge and hotels might not require minimum stays as block bookings became clearer.

Miles said many English fans at Euro 2004 in Portugal had taken advantage of reasonably priced package tours to the southern Algarve coast and just headed up north for matches.

For the German tournament low-cost carriers and charter flights will bring in fans just for the day or for a single night at most.

"You will find that fans can be creative," Miles said. "I've heard from some who are planning to stay in Amsterdam for the match in Cologne. It's not that far away."


For the Dutch themselves that is not an option.

Although the Netherlands borders Germany in the north, Leipzig, Stuttgart and Frankfurt, where the Dutch team play their group matches, are many hours away. The Oranje supporters' club describes hotel prices as ridiculous.

"Some fans will certainly try to drive there and back, even though it is about six hours to Leipzig," said club chief Lloyd Vandenberg. "But I think as the date gets closer some people will just pay those prices anyway as they are so keen to go."

Many price-conscious Dutch are expected to camp and a small Dutch firm has already reserved plots close to the three cities, each sleeping up to 2,000 people and offering a big screen on which to watch matches.

"Dutch people love to camp and they all have caravans," said Jeroen Toonen, the project co-ordinator. "The campsites are in the middle of nowhere where you'll be able to make some noise."

Four days in a tent costs 165 euros per person.

"We will try to create a huge orange caravan trail on the highway moving from city to city," Toonen said.

For the price-conscious fan, German youth hostels say they still have places. Camp sites will also be set up across the country.

Munich siteowners in particular say they will not be fazed by drunken fans as the city hosts millions during the Oktoberfest beer festival.

The 600-square metre "The Tent" will be filled with backpackers while "WM Camp", near the old Olympic stadium, will offer a little more privacy at among the lowest rates in the city -- four-person tents at 50 euros each per night.

However, would-be campers should beware. The last time the World Cup was held on German soil, in 1974, it rained. A lot.

(Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson in Amsterdam)

Philip Blenkinsop
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