Re-opening of hotels in May

Re-opening of hotels in May

by George Coucounis

“Bookings show that hotels can open in May”

THE readiness of the hotels to welcome tourists is given and the efforts of the tour operators, especially from the United Kingdom, to start flights from May, creates the prospects for the tourist season to start earlier this year. Before the pandemic, bookings used to start from the previous year and gradually increased until the end of the tourist season in October/November commencing in March/April. Last year, due to the pandemic and the Covid-19 measures, the tourist season actually started in July and ended in October with an average occupancy rate of 25 – 35% for the hotels which operated. Bookings made before the pandemic did not indicate the occupancy of the hotels, since cancellations were expected to be confirmed over time. The confirmation of the bookings was gradual as from June, cancellations were deducted and new bookings were added, something which is happening this year as from March. It appears that the bookings are double than the cancellations and they will increase over time with the result that the occupancy of hotels will reach much higher levels than last year. The return to normality is desirable and the return to the number of arrivals of the previous years, prior to the pandemic, will take time and we look forward to achieving this in the following tourist seasons.

The two major tour operators TUI and Jet2 announced the start of their program for Cyprus from the UK on 17th May and similar messages were given by Germany during the international tourist exhibition, ITB, in Berlin. Israel will also strengthen the tourism industry with the influx of tourists following the intergovernmental agreement with Cyprus, as well as the traditional markets of Switzerland, Austria, Poland and the Scandinavian countries, from which bookings are received. The Russian and the Ukrainian market will also increase their share of arrivals, given the encouraging messages received from tour operators. It is also expected that domestic tourism will contribute to the increase of bookings, as well as the experience of hotels acquired in the handling of the epidemiological situation.

The tourism industry needs the state aid through subsidies, which helped employment and reduced losses last year. The continuation of the state aid is considered necessary, since the expected increase of the hotels’ occupancy will not be sufficient for the full employment of all personnel. It is preferable to increase the number of employees and their period of employment instead of adopting shift or part-time employment. Timely and correct planning is necessary to give the opportunity to analyze the data and the possibilities and to make the right decisions that will serve the tourism industry and public interest. The actions taken to promote Cyprus as a safe and attractive tourist destination are correct and enhance the tourism product. The statements of the Deputy Minister of Tourism to the British press strengthened the increase of interest and bookings for Cyprus.

Cyprus offers the interested visitor many options for planning his vacation. He can choose a hotel or other tourist establishment or package according to his needs and the place he will stay according to his preferences, whether it will be Ayia Napa, Protaras, Limassol, Paphos or Larnaca. The sunshine and the long period of good weather offers the possibility to a tourist to arrange the time and duration of his vacation. There is a certainty that every visitor in Cyprus will enjoy his holiday, the sun, the sandy beaches, excursions, history, sights, gastronomy, entertainment and hospitality. All actors in the tourism sector, Ministry of Tourism, hotels, affiliates and tour operators should continue promoting Cyprus and it is certain that there will be further interest and bookings, even of last minute. Local authorities can also play their role and assist through cultural events in the effort to promote Cyprus and attract tourists. We can be optimistic that the tourism industry will successfully deal with the situation during the upcoming tourism season for its benefit and of the local economy.