KKEEVVEE ssaayyss 33 mm­llnn ttoou­ur­ri­is­sttss ““ppoosss­si­ib­bllee””

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades has de­clared that his gov­ern­ment plans to draft a na­tional strat­egy on tourism, prob­a­bly the fifth in two decades, in an ef­fort to pluck Cyprus out of the dol­drums of ar­rival num­bers to beyond the 2-2.5 mln tourists re­ceived in the past ten years.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Works Min­is­ter Mar­ios Deme­tri­ades, ad­dress­ing the an­nual meet­ing of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Cyprus Travel Agents (ACTA) on be­half of Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades, said the gov­ern­ment had care­fully ex­am­ined the prob­lems in the sec­tor and was pro­mot­ing so­lu­tions.

He said it was en­cour­ag­ing that in­creases in ar­rivals and rev­enue were recorded this year, adding that com­pared to last year tourist ar­rivals rose by about 6% by July, with a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease from Rus­sia, which to­gether with the UK, ac­count for about 65% of all ar­rivals.

How­ever, this did not take into con­sid­er­a­tion the flat-line in ar­rival num­bers as tourists find cheaper des­ti­na­tions and Cyprus re­mains un­com­pet­i­tive due to high labour, ac­com­mo­da­tion and flight costs.

The Pres­i­dent be­lieves the gov­ern­ment should aim to main­tain ex­ist­ing mar­kets, invest in emerg­ing mar­kets, im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity, ad­dress sea­son­al­ity, and pro­mote Cyprus abroad. Th­ese tar­gets have been laid out by suc­ces­sive ad­min­is­tra­tions, but for some rea­son, they have not been achieved, ei­ther due to in­com­pe­tence in gov­ern­ment or the lack of funds avail­able to the Cyprus Tourism Or­gan­i­sa­tion to bet­ter mar­ket the is­land as a qual­ity des­ti­na­tion.

Anas­tasi­ades said that fur­ther tourist in­fra­struc­ture was set to be cre­ated, which would be of top qual­ity and able to raise Cyprus to a com­pletely new level of ser­vices and ex­pe­ri­ence.

ACTA and the Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (KEVE) of­fi­cials seem op­ti­mistic over the fu­ture prospects of the tourist in­dus­try but have also pointed out the need for the right mea­sures to be taken in or­der to im­prove weak­nesses.

ACTA Pres­i­dent Vic­tor Man­to­va­nis spoke of “the need for a long-term but at the same time flex­i­ble strat­egy guided by vi­sion and common sense”. De­spite hav­ing many pos­i­tive el­e­ments work­ing in its favour, he noted, Cyprus as a tourist des­ti­na­tion is in se­ri­ous need of an up­grade.

He also re­ferred to a lack of a strong “brand­ing” and the need to show off Cyprus’ com­par­a­tive ad­van­tages to other des­ti­na­tions.

He ex­pressed op­ti­mism for the fu­ture of tourism, adding at the same time Cyprus should re­cover its lost com­pet­i­tive­ness and its mar­ket share. He added that the in­dus­try should fo­cus on the warmth in the tra­di­tional Cypriot hos­pi­tal­ity, gas­tron­omy, clean­li­ness and train­ing.

KEVE Cham­ber Pres­i­dent Phidias Pilides right re­struc­tur­ing mea­sures need to be taken.

This year’s pos­i­tive tourist data are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant since our coun­try is in a re­ces­sion and is try­ing to re­cover, he

said

that

the said, warn­ing that this should not lead to com­pla­cency.

Our tourist prod­uct has “struc­tural prob­lems, in­her­ent weak­nesses and mul­ti­ple dis­tor­tions” he said, adding that this was ev­i­dent from the fact that only the tourist mar­ket of Rus­sia recorded an in­crease while oth­ers re­mained the same or dropped.

If we are bold enough to place tourism on a new and mod­ern ba­sis then “we are cer­tain that it can of­fer more”, he said.

As re­gards spe­cific mea­sures, he said there is a need to re­duce sea­son­al­ity, to cre­ate qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture projects, to ren­o­vate ho­tels and tourist ac­com­mo­da­tion, to man­age costs, to seek new tourist mar­kets or ex­pand ex­ist­ing ones, to lib­er­alise flights from and to Cyprus and to take ad­van­tage of al­ter­na­tive tourism as­pects.

Cyprus, he said, could re­ceive over 3 mln tourists per year, a goal which can and should be achieved within the next few years.

RUS­SIAN BANK­RUPTCY

The bank­ruptcy of another Rus­sian tourist agency will not af­fect the num­ber of ar­rivals, ACTA’s Man­to­va­nis said, not­ing how­ever that Cyprus should stop de­pend­ing on a small num­ber of mar­kets.

He said that the Rus­sian agency, the fourth to go belly-up this year, has chan­nelled around 15,000 tourists dur­ing the sum­mer pe­riod.

“Cur­rently”, he added, “we are in Septem­ber, so bank­ruptcy will not af­fect the to­tal num­ber of ar­rivals.”

Man­to­va­nis said that there are only 600-700 Rus­sian tourists stranded in Cyprus, wait­ing to see with which flights they will re­turn to their coun­try.

“This is not healthy,” he said, adding that “we are not say­ing that we should aban­don ei­ther Rus­sia or UK, but we must also look into other tra­di­tional mar­kets.”

Man­to­va­nis gave the ex­am­ples of other ma­jor Euro­pean mar­kets like Ger­many, France and Italy.

Al­ready, the Paphos Re­gional Board of Tourism said on Mon­day that a new Ger­man car­rier plans to in­tro­duce seven weekly flights from five air­ports start­ing in March next year.

Na­sos Had­ji­ge­or­giou, Ex­ec­u­tive Man­ager of PRBT said that ‘Ger­ma­nia’ will launch new flights to Paphos from Dus­sel­dorf, Berlin, Ham­burg, Bre­men and Er­furt, fol­low­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the CTO, air­ports op­er­a­tor Her­mes and his or­gan­i­sa­tion.

He said that Ger­ma­nia al­ready op­er­ates des­ti­na­tions with a fleet of 23 air­craft.

Had­ji­ge­or­giou has in the past praised low-cost op­er­a­tor Ryanair’s choice to use Paphos air­port as a hub that has brought in hun­dreds of thou­sands of new tourists, with the Ir­ish-based air­line aim­ing for 500,000 pas­sen­gers a year.

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