Travel pinched by global financial crisis
The tourists chatting in multiple languages in the piazzas, bars and shops of Rome belie a more somber mood at the ancient city's hotels. Luigi Rinaldi, concierge of the Hotel de la Minerve next to the Pantheon, said American tourists have disappeared, although demand among German, Spanish and Russian tourists is solid. The hotel is trying to lure guests by keeping prices steady -- even during the high season at Christmas and New Year's -- and by adding weekend promotions. "But we are a five-star hotel," Rinaldi said. "We can't be too daring." Rome is among many major cities around the world seeing dramatic declines in hotel occupancy this fall as consumers and businesses cut travel spending: Occupancy in Rome fell 17.5 percent in October compared with the same month last year.