daylight rip-off

ACCRA - The tourism industry in Ghana has been slammed for greatly increasing its prices in anticipation of the masses expected to come and watch this years's 26th Africa Cup of Nations.

ACCRA - The tourism industry in Ghana has been slammed for greatly increasing its prices in anticipation of the masses expected to come and watch this years's 26th Africa Cup of Nations.

Hotels seem to be the main culprits, with some increasing their rates by close to 300 percent.

Accredited journalists needing to travel to the west African country have complained that in some cases hotels have increased the rates after a booking had been made.

A journalist who wished to remain anonymous said he had booked a room in the Francophone Hotel, which prides itself as being a home-away-from-home at affordable prices.

"They said the rate would be 33 dollars for a standard room. When I contacted them later to give them my flight details, I found out that the same room they had previously offered me at 33 dollars was suddenly 120 dollars.

"They are not even embarrassed to advertise these exorbitant prices on the Internet, where they have one rate for booking during the rest of the year and one for booking during the Nations Cup.

"If a bottom-of-the-range hotel goes for 120 dollars, I shudder to think what top-of-the-range hotels will be charging."

A manager at the Francophone hotel, however, said they were just following orders.

"We have been given rates that we should charge during the Nations Cup and we are doing that," he said.

Football fans and journalists unwilling to pay such high prices for accommodation will find that their options are greatly restricted as there is a great shortage of beds not only in the capital Accra, but also in the other host cities, Kumasi, Tamale and Sekondi.

The guest service manager of the Alisa Hotel in Accra, Obed Kwame Bioh, told the BBC that he did not believe that hotels were guilty of profiteering. He said it was standard practice that hotels change prices, "based on what the year ahead of them looks like".

"At Alisa, we're not doing anything extraordinary. Our rates are much better and much cheaper but, of course, other hotels will have to speak for themselves."

Bioh warned it could have repercussions for the country if hotels inflated prices. "We're not here to make money off people. The country's reputation is at stake so at the end of the season, everybody has to account for what they have done," he said.

But it is not only hotels that are hoping to make a killing out of the Nations Cup.

Accra resident Richard Osei said all the prices in the capital have increased. "Taxis are charging more, restaurants are charging more. It appears that everybody is hoping to use the Afcon to make as much money in four weeks as they normally do in a whole year.

"This makes it difficult for the local population and I hope they are not ripped off during the Afcon.

"We are all for the Afcon Cup and we are hoping that the Black Stars will do well, but we also have to travel to work and we also have to eat and if suddenly we find we have to spend much more money than before, that will be a huge problem." - Sapa-dpa

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