More tourists and less revenues

More tourists and less revenues

by George Coucounis

THE tourism industry made an early start this year and better results are expected in the following months. The Russian market entered first, followed by Israel, England, Germany along with the countries of Central Europe, Switzerland, Austria, Poland, as well as Ukraine and the Scandinavian countries. The hoteliers who took the messages seriously and undertook the risk, decided and opened their hotels in the last days of April and feel justified. They offered employment to their staff and the opening worked positively with good occupancies. The Easter holidays and the good weather helped and more bookings are expected in May. The fortnightly lockdown may have created worries, but in the end the tourists who visited Cyprus enjoyed the tranquillity observed on the beaches, enjoyed the warm sun, the good food and hospitality and expressed their satisfaction. As regards the other arrangements, including the health protocols, went smoothly due to the experience of the hotels and staff, who, although called at the last minute, the joy of returning to work gave them strength to respond worthily.

This year it is expected that more visitors will come to Cyprus but the basket will be smaller, since the revenues will be less. The hotels were forced to give reductions ranging between 20% – 30% lower than those of 2019 as per the request of the tour operators. The pre-sale of bookings for 2022 has already started with 2019 prices minus the early booking discount. Therefore, despite the increase of tourists, revenues will be significantly reduced, something which is reflected from the beginning and will be seen at the end of the season. However, the result is positive, satisfaction being expressed by the hoteliers, the government and the staff, as well as by local economy for the income that will be realised, taking into account the circumstances we are facing due to the pandemic.

The concern for this year is the preservation of the tourism product and its competitiveness, the safeguarding of the tradition and the increase of the number of visitors, looking forward to better results in the coming years. The response of the government to continue providing grants for the staff is again necessary, as well as to sponsor the accommodation of Cypriots, even with the low amount of up to €60 per room per day for accommodation and breakfast, with a minimum stay of 2 days. The government sponsors 35% of the price. The Deputy Ministry of Tourism correctly sponsors the accommodation of Cypriots in hotels, as well as tour operators. The decision to facilitate tourists who come to Cyprus ensuring acceptable epidemiological protocols is also correct. It is better to have less revenues than no revenues to avoid problems in the economy. Also, the decision to grant state guarantees is in the right direction, as several hotels will need them until tourism gets back on track.

The brand name of Cyprus focuses on the sun, the sea, the hospitality and whatever good our island offers. On the other hand, we need to study how we are moving forward towards the future, studies and plans are needed to give uniqueness and refresh our tourism product. The immediate implementation of innovative ideas and the introduction of digital technology is considered necessary to allow visitors and each of us, via mobile phone, at any time and place to be able to see, choose a hotel and book a room of their choice; also, to choose the food of their liking and to be provided with a means of transportation regularly from the airport to the hotel and back.

Moreover, it is necessary to develop hotel education and training in order to be able to offer better services that the visitor expects or seeks, making our tourism product more competitive. Through all the above, if we work towards innovative developments, Cyprus will certainly be able to double tourism and attract visitors all year round. There is a lot that can be done, as long as the state, hoteliers and stakeholders in the tourism sector take into account that there is a vision to be realised. The state as well as the economy will be benefited, investments will be made, new jobs will be created and above all the staff will be utilized with full-time employment.