Positive expectations for tourism

Positive expectations for tourism

by George Coucounis

“New start with better results this year in arrivals and income than last year”

THE positive start of the tourism season creates optimism and expectations that this summer the results will be better in arrivals and income than last year. The hotels have already opened and are operating normally, offering foreign and local visitors an excellent opportunity for quality and pleasant accommodation and, above all, cheaper despite the high prices around the world. The loss of the Russian and Ukrainian market due to the Russian invasion and war in Ukraine reaches minus one million tourists. Cyprus as a purely tourist destination looked to the right direction on time, co-operated more with existing traditional markets and created prospects by opening new markets and increasing connectivity to Cyprus. In this way, it will be able to cover as best as possible the loss of the two traditional pillars of tourism flow in Cyprus.

The hotels’ occupancies now at the beginning of the tourist season show that the tourism industry maintains its strength supporting the economy and the labour market. Businesspeople in the tourism industry, as well as the Deputy Ministry of Tourism, worked together, in the European market, but also in other new markets, utilized all tour operators and on-liners, promoting Cyprus as one of the best options for holidays, while increasing flight connectivity to Cyprus. Competitive packages are offered so that people will travel or stay in hotels and daily bookings are on the rise. They will further increase due to the Government’s scheme subsidizing holidays starting on May 1st and will last until the end of July.

All the stakeholders of the tourism industry contribute, especially the hotels that gave low prices, making Cyprus a cheap but at the same time, as always, a quality destination. The result is an increase in arrivals to Cyprus from the United Kingdom, Germany, Central European countries, Scandinavian countries, Israel, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. The emerging markets, apart from Scandinavia and Central Europe, are France, Saudi Arabia, which launched three flights a week, and to some extent Italy, although it co-operates with the occupied areas through Larnaca airport.

Cyprus, with the new beginning, must make short-term and long-term plans, without dependency on the Russian market and aim to become an all-year-round tourist destination, high in the preferences of visitors, satisfying their growing demands. This year’s losses should be an opportunity for Cyprus to offer the best package not only to the average tourist but also to the demanding one who asks for quality and service. Better prices should correspond to the tourism product and services offered. To make this possible, multiple efforts are required, investing in tourism and labour. The urbanization of certain tourist areas, such as Ayia Napa and Protaras, is a necessity to give them life in the winter and to stop the phenomenon of the monastic image they present.

In addition to preserving and enhancing connectivity, Cyprus needs to stand out in the provision of services and activities that interest visitors so that its brand name is not limited to the sun, the sea and hospitality, but to be improved and become a unique one. Seasonality affects the tourism product, since the duration of employment in this sector is limited, resulting in the use of cheap and unskilled labour who are unable to meet the requirements due to the absence of training and education. In the food sector, quality should be improved in order to receive recognition and finally international awards. The promotion of the Cyprus identity is a necessity both through advertising abroad, but especially in Cyprus when the visitor is here to stay and enjoy it.

Local authorities, municipalities and community councils, have a say and a role to play in making projects, organizing activities and taking initiatives, although many of them are already attracting the interest of visitors. Consulting with tour operators and visitors can be another tool for improving the tourism product. A lot more can be achieved, as long as all stakeholders work together, the state, hoteliers, local authorities and all other actors in the tourism sector.