‘Cautious optimism’ for tourism in 2017
Tourism and Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis has taken his excitement about future tourist arrivals down by one notch, expressing ‘cautious optimism’ for the prospects next year.
He told travel industry professionals during this week’s World Travel Market in London that 2017 will be an even better year than 2016 in terms of attracting visitors.
The current year is drawing to a close with estimates pointing to a record 3.1 million visitors, 1.1 million of which will have come from the UK. Arrivals from Russia and Israel have also recorded a notable rise.
“These improved numbers are down to a combination of other factors affecting countries in the region that are experiencing difficulties and of course Cyprus being ready to welcome the increased tourist flows. Let’s not forget that in 2015, when a number of adverse circumstances weighed upon Cypriot tourism, we still managed to increase our numbers by 9% (year on year),” said the minister.
Lakkotrypis noted that the positive picture does not mean that there are no challenges ahead, pointing to the fall in the value of the British pound. He did, however, say that he is optimistic that the negative impact of the weakened sterling will be “absorbed”, as the tourism industry has already taken steps that maintain Cyprus as a good destination for British visitors.
Lakkotrypis, accompanied by the senior officials of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, met with representatives of tour operators Thomas Cook and TUI as well as EasyJet, Jet2 and Monarch airlines. He also discussed various issues with tourism officials and professionals from the island that were among the tens of Cypriot exhibitors at the WTM.
In terms of the objectives of his visit to London, the minister said: “Among other things, we are interested in airlines adding new flight routes, so that we are able to reach new markets.”
During a press conference at the Excel exhibition centre in east London, where the World Travel Market in being held, Lakkotrypis highlighted Cyprus’s emphasis on thematic tourism, a strategy that has diversified the island’s product and has broadened its appeal: “The island is not offering just ‘sun and sea’ anymore. With this change, along with investment in infrastructure, we have regained our competitiveness.”
He also made special reference to the plan to extend the tourist period into winter.
“Cyprus can’t be turned into a 12-month destination overnight. What we want to do is have hotels opening a week earlier each year and closing a week later, and that’s what has been happening with hotels shutting at the end of November this year and opening in March instead of April,” said the Minister.