Tourism re­form – haven’t we heard it be­fore?

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

He also

noted

that

it

is

im­per­a­tive

to

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.

its

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