Tourism reform – haven’t we heard it before?
President Nicos Anastasiades told hoteliers on Tuesday that the government is planning a comprehensive reform for the tourism sector, which includes creating a cabinet post for an under-secretary in charge of tourism.
However well intended, the pledges were not well received by members of the Cyprus Hotel Association who have heard of reforms of the tourism strategy, while the establishment of a cabinet post was a pre-election pledge made by Anastasiades three years ago, with none of the six posts established to date.
The president told the hoteliers that the ‘new’ strategy will include the upgrading of the institutional governance of the sector through a new regulatory framework.
“We are now in the final phase of these big changes that will be soon submitted in the form of bills to Parliament,” he said.
He said that the sector of tourism will be a high priority for the Government, just as he has told the shipping industry.
“In the great effort we are all making to strengthen the tourism sector, the hoteliers are in the front line,” the President said, noting that the quality of the services offered reflect the touristic image of Cyprus.
Referring to the contribution of the tourism sector in the island’s recover after the 1974 Turkish invasion, Anastasiades noted that the same sector proved to be very strong during the economic crisis and it is mainly because of tourism that Cyprus has managed to return to growth in such a short period of time.
“Knowing the prospects of tourism, the government has worked from the first moment to upgrade the quality of our tourist product. We continued and we will continue unabated to promote big projects of tourism infrastructure, including new golf courses, marinas and the casino resort, and despite our public finances being in a difficult state, we have approved in the budget development projects worth millions of euros to improve the public tourism infrastructure” he said.
He stressed that the Government gave incentives which actually create growth.
The President also referred to the Government’s actions to simplify the procedures for acquiring a visa by non-EU nations and to the dozens of agreements with airlines and tour operators, to further increase the schedules and the availability of airline seats to Cyprus.
He also said that a marketing plan will be launched by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation that will aim to enrich and modernise the tourism product. The project is for the 20142020 programming period and is estimated at 14 mln euros, while it is expected to generate investments of 50 mln in the tourism industry.
In his address, Anastasiades also called on the hoteliers not to overlook the local workforce.
“We do not exclude anyone from employment” the President said, but noted that unlike foreign workers, Cypriots treat foreign visitors in a different manner. He then urged the hoteliers not to neglect the local workforce and the collective labour agreements.
The Chairman of the Association, Harris Loizides, said that 2016 could be a record year in terms of tourist arrivals. He said that Cyprus could attract 3.5 mln tourists per year in the next five years through concerted and well targeted actions.
continue and enhance the reforms that the country needs, to render economy more attractive, flexible and competitive.
CTO Chairman Angelos Loizou projected that 2016 will be a historically successful year as regards both arrivals and revenue, in a period during which the European travellers’ trips are expected to be reduced by approximately 25%.
In his address, the Chairman of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels Giorgos Tsakiris referred to the new challenges for tourism and the tourism product in recent years posed by online bookings and hotel reviews, the emergence of new destinations, the expansion of the so called sharing economy and its impact on tourism.